This is the story of a government school in Kalyanpur, located in Bihar’s Gopalganj district. The school was closed for more than a week because Sunita Kuwar, the woman responsible for cooking mid-day meals for students is a widow. The villagers, strongly sticking to their superstitions beliefs, called her a ‘bad omen’, protested against the school authorities, and didn’t allow the school to function.
When Sunita approached the district administration to reinstate her, around 150 villagers stormed the school and locked it up. Residents of the predominantly Rajput village of about 2,500 people warned Sunita of dire consequences if she resumes work. “We will not allow a widow to prepare midday meal for our kids. This is a bad omen,” Shiv Bihari Singh, a Kalyanpur resident, told The Telegraph.
After months of trouble, the situation changed when the school was visited by Rahul Kumar, the District Magistrate of Gopalganj. To the utter surprise of the villagers, he sat down on the floor along with students and had the mid-day meal prepared by Sunita. “I along with district education officer visited the school today and ate the midday meal prepared by the lady for students,” Kumar told PTI. The DM said the woman had resumed her duties in the school and he had asked officials to see why the villagers stopped her from cooking food. He went on to convince the villagers to allow the school to function, although the fight for equality here is far from won.
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