UP: Before roti-salt, kids at Mirzapur school were served rice-salt
The fault lines in the mid-day meal scheme were exposed last month after it was revealed that students at a state-run school in Mirzapur were served roti with salt. Rather than doing something about it, the government booked the scribe who exposed the scam. But that's not the worst part. Just a week before the incident was filmed, the kids were served rice with salt.
On August 22, Pawan Jaiswal, a correspondent of Jansandesh Times, filmed a video. In the clip, kids were seen sitting on the floor, eating roti with salt when "on paper", the mid-day meal scheme is supposed to serve them pulses, vegetables, and even fruits on some days. Subsequently, the headmaster in-charge of Seur government primary school, Murari Lal, was suspended.
The video should have served as an eye-opener for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. He should have seen to it if other schools are doing the same, and done something to ensure poor kids aren't devoid of a healthy meal. But what did his administration do? UP police booked Jaiswal and one another on charges of "criminal conspiracy" and "fraud". Yogi Raj, you see!
The other person who has been booked is representative of the village head Rajkumar Pal. The administration evoked IPC Sections 186 (voluntarily obstructing public servant in discharge of his function), 193 (false evidence), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 420 (cheating) in the FIR. Jaiswal had said he was hurt on seeing poor kids eating roti with salt, hence circulated the video he shot.
"If you write the truth in UP, the police and the administration who have come down to the level of gunda-like behavior will get you. Jab sarkar ya koi bhakt kahega yeh sachh hai, tab aap likhiye woh sachh," Jaiswal's editor Vineet told The Telegraph.
When asked why was Jaiswal booked, District Magistrate Anurag Patel, said there is "way" to report the news. "I will make you hear the video where a person is heard calling him and saying that I am conspiring and you come and help me make this video viral," Patel said. He "argued" Jaiswal shouldn't have made the video as he is a "print journalist"
Now Adityanath's government may have been shouting conspiracy on top of their lungs, but the ground reality is completely different. A week before Jaiswal unearthed the scam, the kids were given rice and salt. 40-year-old Rukmani Devi, who is one of the two cooks employed by the school and whose daughter also studies there, confirmed to IE that rice and salt were served.
"That day, I told the headmaster in-charge Murari Lal about the lack of supplies and that rice and salt is being served. He told me to shut up and said nobody will believe children if they say rice and salt were served," she said.
Another local Kailash, whose daughter studies in the same school, corroborated the story. "That's the first thing (what she ate) she tells me after coming back from school. On two days, she told me about eating just salt with rice or roti," Kailash said. However, on Tuesday, the 97 students of the school were served with pulses and rice.