Sometimes, all that is required to begin the battle against centuries of superstition and unthinking oppression is a simple meal of chhole and rice.
Sunita Kanwar is one of the 6 cooks who prepare mid-day meals for over 700 students at the government school in Kalyanpur, Bihar. But for the last 21 months, she has been fighting to keep her job. The reason: she is a widow.
“We will not allow a widow to prepare mid-day meal for our kids. This is a bad omen,” a Kalyanpur resident told The Telegraph.
District Magistrate (DM) Rahul Kumar first tweeted this about the opposition that Sunita was facing
Some misled villagers opposed a widow cook and threatened to withdraw their Children from school after she was rightfully reinstated.
— DM Gopalganj (@rahulias6) December 18, 2015
To dispel this frustrating superstition, Rahul Kumar decided to eat lunch with the children in the government school on Friday.
Sometimes u do symbolic things to overcome people's beliefs. Asked the same widow cook to serve me the meal. pic.twitter.com/SoHXueqqRv
— DM Gopalganj (@rahulias6) December 18, 2015Partner Story#MGChangemakers - Episode 2: THE 21-YEAR JOURNEY OF CHANGE | Driving India Into Future
Live Now #MGChangemakers Episode 2 : Touched by poverty, untouchability and atrocities against Musahar- the Mahadalit community of Bihar, Padma Shri Sudha Varghese decided to dedicate her life for their upliftment. Watch the video to learn about her inspirational journey & how she is ‘Driving India Into The Future’. #MGChangemakers powered by MG Motor India and supported by United Nations India. Show your support by donating now: http://bit.ly/Milap-MGChangemakersPosted by TheBetterIndia on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The food had been prepared by Sunita Kanwar, who was widowed within 3 years of marriage.
To reinforce the message that this kind of discrimination is unconstitutional, the DM also said that legal action would be taken against those who threatened her.
Sunita had earlier sought the help of the panchayat head, the school principle, and the block mid-day meal-in-charge — all of whom expressed their inability to fight back against mounting pressure from local villagers. It was then that she went to the DM, the senior-most government official in the district, for help.
“Hum aaj bahut khush hain (I’m very happy today),” Sunita said.