“All you Mala-Madigas don’t pay fees, then why do you come to school?” a teacher allegedly told Monu, refusing to let her write an exam.

Ill pay double fee will they return her Dalit teens suicide shatters Hyd family
news Caste Discrimination Sunday, February 04, 2018 - 13:54

“I can pay double the fees now. Will they return my daughter?” asks a furious Balakrishna, still unable to come to terms with the death of his 14-year-old daughter, K Sai Deepth, fondly called as Monu. The father's wrath is directed at the teachers and management of Monu’s school, who allegedly hurled casteist slurs at her and refused to let her write an exam, pushing the teen to kill herself at her home in Hyderabad on Thursday.

All because Monu's parents couldn't pay her school fees for a few months.

According to Monu's family, a teacher at the Jyothi High School in Malkanjgiri allegedly told the 14-year-old on Thursday morning: “All you Mala-Madigas don't pay fees, then why do you come to school?”

Mala and Madiga are Scheduled Castes in Telangana. Monu’s family belongs to the Madiga caste.

The alleged casteist insult, and the fact that she was not allowed to write her unit test and sent back home, upset the bright Dalit teenager.

Monu’s elder sister, Sai Latha (Sonu), narrates, “My sister went to school on Thursday at 8.15 am as usual after preparing for the test. But she returned back at 10.30 am. When I asked her why she came back so soon, she cried inconsolably…”

‘Casteist slurs pushed her to suicide’

“At first, she wasn't able to tell me what had happened. Ten minutes later, after much consoling, she told me her teacher had humiliated her in front of her whole class,” Sonu says.

“The teacher humiliated her in front of the whole class by throwing a book at her face, with the insult: 'All you Mala-Madigas don't pay fees, then why do you come to school?’ I tried my best to console her,” Sonu adds.

The B.Tech student recalls, “I consoled her and to cheer her up, we later played… I was convinced that she had forgotten about the incident.”

Convinced that her sister had come out of the trauma, Sonu then left for the bank to collect her scholarship money. When she returned, she saw her younger sister hanging from the ceiling fan with a saree.

Sonu immediately called an ambulance, but precious time was lost as the ambulance was caught at a railway signal.

Monu was declared dead as she was brought to the hospital. In her suicide note, the teenager wrote, “They didn't let me write the exam. Sorry, mom.”

There were teardrops on the suicide note, Sonu says, as she breaks down.

The Malkajgiri police have filed a case against three persons under the SC/ST Prevention of  Atrocities Act. The school principal Gantla Lakshmi, teacher A Satyanarayana Raj, and cashier Sheik Sajida, have been arrested and sent to judicial custody.

What is the price of a Dalit life in India?

In Monu's case, it was Rs 3,200. Her parents weren't able to pay her school fees - a sum of Rs 800 per month - for the last four months.

An emotional Balakrishna weeps and says, “My wife and I work day and night to save up money. We couldn’t pay the fee owing to financial crisis.”

“I can pay double the fees now. Will they return my daughter?” the distraught father asks.

Balakrishna works as a painter while his wife Sunitha works at a supermarket.

Monu’s devastated mother Sunitha, says, “My little baby was extremely sensitive. Nobody would scold her at home. I don’t know what all insults she (teacher) must have showered on my daughter that a small girl could think of committing suicide.”

Adding to their woes, the management has allegedly claimed that the family has demanded a compensation of Rs 16 lakh, which Sunitha vehemently denies.

The shocking incident, however, appears not to have moved the authorities enough.

Neither the District Collector, nor any other bureaucrat has come to meet Monu's family. Associations that conduct protests for the reduction of school fees in the city have been conspicuously silent on Monu's death. There are no candlelight vigils for the Dalit girl, no marches to keep her memory alive.

An exasperated Balakrishna, seated on a chair, says to the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi activists, who have come to express solidarity with the family, “What else will happen now? Nothing happened in these two days. Soon my daughter will be forgotten. She already has been…”