Recently, a video had gone viral on social media where it was shown that children of a rural school in Uttar Pradesh were served only salt and roti for their mid-day meal. After a huge uproar over the sheer negligence and low-quality food being served to children, the government machinery in the state had swung into action.
However, latest developments and an investigation into the incident have suggested that the entire event might have been staged to benefit a few persons.
UP CM Yogi Adityanath had taken cognisance of the event and had ordered an inquiry over the incident. Some startling details have come to notice after the inquiry by the government authorities.
It is notable here that the incident was from Siyur Primary School in Mirzapur district and after the salt-roti video went viral, the headmaster of the school and the local education officer were suspended.
As per latest reports, after the investigation by government authorities, it has been found that the representative of the Gram Pradhan, Rajkumar Pal was aware of the fact that no vegetables were available for the cooks in school to prepare on that particular day. Despite being responsible for the mid-day meal, Rajkumar allegedly called the journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal to come to the school and record the video.
Times group journalist Rohan Dua had shared a statement from the government authorities where they informed that the mid-day meal account in the school is a joint account and both the Village Pradhan and the school headmaster are responsible for the mid-day meal. The investigation by the authorities had revealed that the journalist Jaiswal’s phone records showed that he had received a call from the village Pradhan’s representative Rajkumar Pal at around 10.30 on that day, informing him that there are no vegetables available in the school that day and the school is going to serve only salt-roti to students.
BRK:@UPGovt reax in Mirzapur row
1.Villg rep spoke to reporter at 10:30 before he visitd school.This shows he knew there were no vegetables yet he calld up reportr while his job was to replenish stock
2.Reporter informd being frm print media;villg head askd him to bring camera pic.twitter.com/HAdSzTqjXr
— Rohan Dua (@rohanduaTOI) September 2, 2019
The authorities further stated that this proves that Rajkumar Pal was well aware of the fact that there were no vegetables in the school. Despite being aware, he made no efforts to purchase and supply vegetables in the school and instead informed the journalist to shoot a video of students eating salt-roti.
The government official further stated that the journalist had stated that he is from the print media and he will print an article. But the Pradhan’s rep Rajkumar Pal allegedly insisted on a video. Later, Rajkumar Pal and the journalist Pawan Jaiswal visited the school and insisted upon the salt-roti being served to the students so that they could make a video. The official stated that it was the duty of the Pradhan’s representative to ensure that vegetables are made available for the school cooks but he insisted on the salt-roti being served and the video being shot.
The cooks in the school have reportedly informed that there were other unknown persons present with the Pradhan’s representative and the journalist who had forced them to serve salt-roti to the students. The FIR by the Ahraura police also mentions an ‘unknown person’ along with Rajkumar Pal and Pawan Kumar Jayaswal.
As per reports, the Block Education Officer had spoken to concerned students, cooks and many villagers and taken their statements. After a due investigation, the complaint has been registered by the BEO Prem Shankar Ram alleging that the accused Rajkumar Pal and the journalist had conspired and planned the entire incident to make sure salt-roti is served to students and had then circulated the video with the ill intention of causing a hindrance in the workings of the education department.
The police have booked Rajkumar Pal, Pawan Jaiswal and another person under sections 186, 193, 120B and 420 for conspiracy, and using false witness statements to malign the image of government officials.
A report in The Indian Express has stated that this was not the first time a meagre meal was served in the school. It mentions that the headmaster in-charge Murari Lal had asked the cook last week to ‘shut up’ when she had notified him that there were no vegetables.
In the meanwhile, the concerned journalist Pawan Kumar Jaiswal had stated that he had informed the local education officer before he visited the school and the ABSA had promised to ‘look into the matter’. Police have also been quoted that they are yet to find any evidence against the journalist. Some government sources have mentioned that the journalist has ‘fallen prey’ in a conspiracy by some people to get a teacher suspended.
The incident seems to have many layers of negligence and conspiracy. While the headmaster and Pradhan’s representative are at fault for not supplying vegetables for the cooks, the conspiracy of getting a journalist to record the video while making the students eat salt-roti displays the sheer indifference of certain individuals towards school children being fed a meagre meal. In the scuffle between individuals with vested interests to protect their jobs and cover-up sheer negligence of duty, children of a village have been deprived of a healthy meal that is promised to them by government schemes.