To help a widow who was considered a ‘bad omen’ by the Kalyanpur (in Bihar) villagers, district magistrate Rahul Kumar ate a meal cooked by her so that she can get her job back.
The widow, Sunita Kumar, use to cook mid-day meals for the students of a government school there.
She was sacked last year because villagers questioned her character and considered her as a bad omen because of her widowhood.
“We will not allow a widow to prepare midday meal for our kids. This is a bad omen. We fear a repeat of the Gandaman incident in neighbouring Saran district where 23 children died after eating a contaminated meal in 2013,” said Shiv Bihari Singh, a Kalyanpur resident.
Another villager said that she had developed close relationships with people of neighbouring villages. However, Sunita refuted all the allegations even as her brothers-in-law refused to help her.
Denied help from Kalyanpur panchayat head, she approached the district magistrate at his weekly janata darbar (town-hall meeting) and told him about her ordeal.
Here she was assured of help.
Sunita told the DM:
“I am being victimised as I am a widow.I have to look after my two minor children. I am fighting my battle alone and running from one office to another to get justice for the past 21 months.”
As promised, the district authorities sent a letter to the school principal and asked that she should be reinstated.
“I received a letter from the midday meal in-charge asking that Sunita should be reinstated,” said Nikhileshwar Kumar Singh, who is now the principal of the Kalyanpur Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya where Sunita worked.
But as soon as the villagers came to know about it, they protested against the decision and even forced the school to shut down for several days. It was after this that DM Rahul Kumar intervened and asked the villagers to withdraw their protest.
“I along with district education officer visited the school and ate the midday meal prepared by the lady for students,” Kumar said.
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, 2015
The DM added that the woman had resumed her duties in the school while Twitterati has found in him an inspirational human being.
The DM’s act has now even encouraged some to come forward to help Sunita.
One Mr. Satyapal Sharma from Canada came ahead to assist the lady financially. Thanks all of you for spreading the word. — DM Gopalganj (@rahulias6) December 19, 2015
We, too, applaud DM Rahul Kumar.