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Rajasthan: Education Minister Faces Flak for Suspension of Dalit School Teacher

The Dalit community has decried minister Madan Dilawar’s “arbitrary action” against Hemlata Bairwa and has sought the CM’s intervention.
The Dalit community has decried minister Madan Dilawar’s “arbitrary action” against Hemlata Bairwa and has sought the CM’s intervention

Image Courtesy: Twitter/@madandilawar

New Delhi: Education Minister Madan Dilawar in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Rajasthan is facing ire from the Dalit community in the state over the suspension of a school teacher for “hurting religious sentiments” and “refusing to worship Goddess Saraswati”.

The teacher, Hemlata Bairwa, posted at government primary school in Lakdai village in Baran district’s Kishanganj block, was suspended last week, a day after minister Dilawar announced action against her at a public function in Kishanganj, according to a report in The Hindu.

The teacher, who put up pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule, at a function on January 26, reportedly “refused to place a painting of Goddess Saraswati on the stage.”

According to The Hindu, Bairwa, refused to be cowed down when some villagers tried to pressure her and has maintained that she respects all Gods but also believes in keeping the school secular.

Meanwhile, the Dalit community and several others in the state have condemned the minister, terming the suspension order as a “Tughlaqi Farmaan (decree)”, according to a report in Careers360.

“This head will bow in respect of only those who have any contribution in building the country, I respect the Gods of all religions, but I am also in favor of keeping the government educational institutions secular and will remain so. I am sure that my community members will not let my fight weaken. Jai Bheem,” the teacher said in a post on her X (formerly Twitter) account, the report Careers360 report said.

The suspension of the Dalit teacher comes close on the heels of similar action against three Muslim teachers in Kota district on allegations of “religious conversion.”  Muslim organisations and even some school students have protested the action by the education department, as directed by Dilawar, who has a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh background.

In both cases, the respective communities alleged that action was taken without proper enquiry. The education department has, however, claimed that Bairwa was suspended only after “completion of the initial enquiry”, as per The Hindu.

Meanwhile, various people including MLAs, writers, professors, advocates, and others have come out in support of Bairwa demanding justice for her and condemning the minister. 

Tika Ram Jully, a Congress MLA, and Leader of the Opposition in Assembly, said: “I condemn the dirty politics of BJP in the temple of education in the state. The Rajasthan Education Minister Madan Dilawar has shown himself to be the biggest Sanghi of the country by suspending the "Dalit teacher" Hemlata Bairwa of Lakdai School in Baran district! Such actions are highly condemnable! Innocent teacher Hemlata Bairwa was suspended for not taking action against the teachers and villagers who obstructed government work. The BJP government is continuously showing the proof of being anti-Dalit through such shameful acts,” as quoted by Careers360.

Considered a hardcore Hindutva leader, Dilawar has most recently been in the news for terming Mughal emperor Akbar as a “rapist”,  triggering a fresh row in the state. He has also proposed changes in this regard in school textbooks.

“Akbar was never a great personality. He was an aggressor and a rapist. He used to run ‘meena bazaar’ to bring beautiful women with him and later raped them. Calling such a man a great personality is stupidity,” Dilawar told reporters during a visit to a temple in Balotra, a Hindustan Times report said.

Reacting to this, Congress spokesperson Swarnim Chaturvedi in Jaipur said, “The school curriculum in Rajasthan is set by academicians and other experts of the NCERT which is supervised by the Central government. Does the minister want to say that the government which is run by his own party is making these mistakes?”

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