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Monday, 25 September, 2000, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Caste row in Indian school
Dalits in Bihar
Many Dalits face caste discrimination in India
By Narayan Bareth in Jaipur

A school principal in the western Indian state of Rajasthan is under fire for failing to act in a case of caste discrimination.

He is said to have failed to prevent discrimination against a group of low caste or Dalit students.

A non-governmental organisation had alleged that 38 Dalit students were not allowed to drink water from the same source as their higher caste classmates.

Rajasthan map
A spokesman for the organisation Unnati (progress), Sujeet Sarkar, told the BBC that the Dalit students of a government-run school in Barmer district were punished after they asked to drink water from a pitcher used only by the high caste students.

Forced out

Mr Sarkar alleged that the Dalit students were forced to leave their classes after a Dalit social organisation protested against the caste discrimination.

The spokesman said the students were allowed back in the classes four days later only after district officials intervened.

Mr Sarkar said caste discrimination was still widespread in the rural areas of Rajasthan.

Barmer district collector, AK Hemkar, told the BBC that he had asked the education department to take action against the school principal.

Under the traditional Hindu social system, low caste members are barred from sharing water or food with high caste people.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | South Asia
Indian minister 'tortured' staff
07 Mar 00 | South Asia
Court rules out caste differences
17 Jun 00 | South Asia
Caste war escalates in Bihar
28 Sep 99 | South Asia
Dalits' political awakening
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