At Morarji Desai Residential School in Yaluvahalli, Malur taluk, Kolar district of Karnataka, a group of Dalit students were allegedly forced into cleaning a septic tank purportedly used for human waste disposal.
The incident came to light through videos circulated on social media, reportedly shot by a teacher on a mobile phone.
Expressing strong disapproval, the state’s social welfare minister, HC Mahadevappa, stated, “A responsible organization can’t employ children for such work. It is highly condemnable. As soon as I came to know about this, I called the principal and suspended the principal, warden, and other officials.” The minister further ordered a thorough investigation by the department into the undated incident.
The suspended school staff include Principal Bharathamma, teachers Muniyappa and Abhishek, and hostel warden Manjunath.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has ordered a detailed report, promising stringent action against the culprits. He commented, “I have come to know about the incident, and I have sought a report. Will take strict action based on the report.”
In the disturbing videos, five to six students from classes 7 to 9 were reportedly made to enter and clean the septic tank under the supervision of the principal and a teacher. The students described harsh conditions at the school, and alleged punishment, including kneeling outside the hostel at night and physical abuse.
While school officials attempted to downplay the incident, claiming it was part of a cleanliness drive and not a waste disposal task, a teacher, requesting anonymity, confirmed the pit contained excrement.
Parents have expressed outrage, with one stating, “Using school students for this work is wrong; we will initiate action against school authorities.” District child protection unit officer Nagaratna, who visited the school, affirmed disciplinary action would be recommended against the erring school staff.
The incident has triggered a political row, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemning the “heinous incident” against Dalit students. State BJP chief BY Vijayendra called for strict action against the culprits and demanded that Minister Mahadevappa should take moral responsibility and resign.