Kendrapara, March 5 (LocalWire): A dalit woman cook and a co-worker of an Anganwadi center in Kendrapara district have launched an indefinite hunger strike, after some parents forcefully closed the facility over hiring a lower caste person to prepare meals for their children.
Sanjukta Biswas and co-worker Anjalirani Mandal said that some ‘upper caste’ parents closed the centre on November 2 for not obeying their dictate. Sanjukta was hired as a helper-cum-cook in October, but some parents wouldn’t allow their wards to eat meals prepared by her.
On Tuesday, Sanjukta and Anjalirani launched an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Child Development Project Office (CDPO) at Rajnagar, demanding strong action against the accused. Some women and children have also joined them in the hunger strike.
Currently, around 60 children are enrolled at the centre in Debendranarayanpur village.
“I had informed the matter to CDPO, who assured me to open the center and take necessary action. But they are yet to unlock it,” Anjalirani said.
Responding to a media query, CDPO Puspalata Das said, “Umpteen times I have urged them to unlock the center, but they didn’t pay any heed. I have now informed the matter to the district administration.”
Nagen Jena, a dalit leader and president of Kendrapara Dalit Samaj, said, “The Supreme Court in 2004 had stated that cooks belonging to SC and ST should be given a priority for jobs at Anganwadis. But the district administration has failed to take any action against the guilty.”
When LocalWire contacted Kendrapara sub-collector Sanjay Mishra, he said, “I have directed the tehasildar of Rajnagar to submit a detailed report, after which a proper action will be taken.”