Nothing seems to have changed in the government higher primary school in Kuppegala, Mysuru district - the alma mater of chief minister Siddaramaiah - where the members of upper community had boycotted over dalit cook appointed for mid-day meals, almost two years ago. For, no women from dalit communities have come forward to take up the job, so far, reports Vijay Karnataka.

Two years ago, members of the upper communities had boycotted over the appointment of dalit woman as assistant cook by the school authorities. They had prevented their wards from going to school as a result, the school had suffered major attendance shortage. The fall in attendance shortage to less than 60 per cent forced the authorities concerned to rush to school only to find out the deep caste divide in the village. No effort from the authorities concerned would help in convincing the parents who had demanded that the school should stop appointing the dalits as cooks.

Kuppegala is 35 km from Mysuru and falls in Varuna Assembly segment that is represented by chief minister Siddaramaiah. The school is established in 1950 where Siddaramaiah too had studied. The village has population over 4,000 of which dalits are in majority.

They had made their students to carry food from home, while dalit students of the school ate the food prepared by the cook. The deep caste divide in the school forced various religious leaders and politicians to take part in the mid-day meal. They served food - prepared by the cook - to students and even partook the food in an attempt to end the caste divide. This had improved the attendance in the school to some extent.

But now, the caste division has raised its ugly head in another form. Since this year's academic year, the school has had no dalit cooks. In fact, the post of assistant cook is reserved for Women (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Communities). But so far, no one has come forward, reports Vijay Karnataka quoting Chikkadeva, head of Kuppegala School.

It is reported that an assistant cook (from dalit community) who was working until June, has apparently quit the job. With no takers for the post, the school has reportedly appointed an assistant cook from the upper community. This has not gone down well with dalits.

"The school could have called for assistant cooks even from panchayat level. Instead of that they have made unauthorised appointment of assistant cooks from upper community," reports Vijay Karnataka, quoting a dalit member in the village.

It is reported that the members of the upper community denied jobs for dalits as the school continued to appoint dalit women as assistant cooks. Some families even reportedly faced boycott by the upper community members. It is now alleged that the upper community members are threatening the dalit women from taking up the job.

"Most of the dalit women have quit the job as they could not bear the harassment by upper community members. When dalits are in majority in the village, it is surprising that no one is ready to take up the job. Shouldn't it warn a probe by the authorities concerned," wondered a dalit community member.