Villagers bar headmaster for stealing students’ lunch

May 23rd, 2009 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, May 23 (IANS) After he was caught stealing rice meant for schoolchildren’s lunch, the headmaster of a primary school in Bihar’s Begusarai district has been banned from the school by irate villagers, police said Saturday.
Pitambar Pathak, headmaster of a government-run school in Puwari Tola village under Teghra block of the district, 126 km from state capital Patna, was caught selling rice to a local trader Monday by the villagers, police officers said.

The rice was meant for the Mid Day Meal scheme that aims to attract children to school and improve their nutrition levels too.

On being caught, Pathak admitted to his crime before the villagers and publicly apologised for it. The villagers fined him before he was allowed to leave the village.

However, Pathak Tuesday lodged a case of extortion against the villagers at the local police station. This angered the villagers and the school remained closed for the next three days.

When the school re-opened Friday, the villagers announced Pathak would not be allowed to enter the premises until strict action was initiated against him. Some villagers demanded his arrest also.

Officials of the district education department have lodged a case against Pathak.

This is not the first case when a teacher in the state was caught selling food meant for the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. In the last one year, rice and other foodgrains meant for the scheme were found in the house of teachers and several cases of irregularities were reported in the schools, in which teachers were allegedly involved.

The Mid-Day Meal Scheme is the world’s largest nutritional programme, covering more than one million schools across India. Under it, students in government-run schools are given freen lunch. It was launched in July 1995 to tackle the twin problems of dropout rates in primary schools and nutrition among children from poor families.

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