Kendrapara, Jan 29 (LocalWire) An Anganwadi center has been put under lock and keyover three months back by upper-caste residents of remote seaside village Debendranarayanpur under Rajnagar block to protest appointment of a dalit cook-cum-helper.
Sources said officials are yet to unlock the center and take action against the perpetrators; as a result, fate of around 60 kids is hanging in balance.
Dalit cook Sanjukta Biswas faced protest from parents, who complained to Anganwdi worker Anjalirani Mandal in November that their kids would not consume meals prepared by her.
They also sought a replacement and reportedly locked the Anganwadi center on Nov 2.
“They also prevented me to unlock the Anganwadi center. I have already informed the matter to the Chief Development Project Officer (CDPO) of Rajnagar block who assured me to unlock the center soon and take necessary action against people who illegally locked the center . But officials are yet to solve this issue,” said Anganwadi worker Anjalirani Mandal.
“I was posted by the authorities as a helper in the Anganwadi center. But in November, some upper caste villagers warned me not to cook food for the kids . But I refused to obey their order. So they locked the center,” said cook-cum-helper Sanjukta Biswas.
A team of Dalit leaders visited the village on Monday after knowing about the incident.
“The Supreme Court in an interim order dated 20th, April, 2004 in a writ petition -196 of 2001 PUCL vs. Government of India and others stated that cooks belonging to SC and ST should be given priority in the midday meal in the schools,” said Nagen Jena, a dalit leader and president of District unit of Dalit Samaj.
“I requested the villagers multiple times unlock the center. But they did not pay any heed to my pleas. I have informed the matter to the district administration,” said Puspalata Das, CDPO, Rajnagar.
When contacted Kendrapara sub-collector Sanjay Mishra said: “I have directed the Tehasildar of Rajnagar to submit a detailed report. After getting the report, the district administration will take proper action against the people who illegally locked the Anganwadi center.”