Over 20 Dalit students at a government school in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand refused to eat mid-day meals cooked by an upper-caste woman after a cook belonging to the Scheduled Caste community was fired from the school, PTI reported.
However, on Sunday, 26 December, the district administration said that the issue had been resolved, and members of both communities had reached a consensus.
"I hope the Dalit students will resume eating the food prepared by the new Bhojan Mata (cook) from tomorrow," Champawat District Magistrate Vineet Tomar was quoted as saying by PTI.
Earlier, 43 students belonging to the upper caste communities, studying in classes VI-VIII at the Government Inter College, Sukhi Dang, had refused to eat food cooked by a Dalit cook.
The Dalit woman was removed following the controversy. The Champawat education department officials said the cook was sacked as there were procedural lapses in her appointment and replaced her with a cook belonging to the upper caste.
As a retaliatory measure, 23 Dalit students of the school refused to eat the mid-day meal prepared by the woman from the upper caste.
Tomar said that an inquiry into the matter was going on, and its report should be out in a week.
After the Dalit cook was fired, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Pradeep Tamta said his party would launch an agitation to "restore the woman's Constitutional rights".
Meanwhile, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan said if the Dalit woman was not re-instated, his outfit would gherao Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.