A Dalit boy, who was allegedly denied access by some of his teachers to a hand pump, drowned in a well on Tuesday when he tried to quench his thirst by drinking from it. Nine-year-old Veeran Ahirwar had just finished his midday meal and had approached a nearby hand pump to drink water in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district, according to the Hindustan Times.
When he was stopped, he and some other boys went to a nearby well to drink water. Veeran's older brother Sewak, who studied in the fifth grade in the same school, said he lost his balance and fell in.
The headmaster of the government primary and the headmistress of the middle school of Khamariya Kalan village have been suspended and the contracts of the teachers involved in the incident terminated, according to the report. Members of the Dalit community have reportedly complained of bias even though Damoh collector, Sriniwas Sharma, ruled out caste-based discrimination in the accident.
In this report, Sewak is said to have complained that he has to draw water from the well daily because the Dalit children are not allowed to drink from the hand pump. It also says that Veeran was attempting to draw water from the well by tying a rope around a bottle when he slipped.
"For past one week, there has been a water crisis. Villagers also come to fetch water from the school hand pump," Times of India quoted the Collector as saying. He said there was a crowd at the well too. Although how the boy drowned despite the presence of so many people will remain a mystery.
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