A 52-year-old in-charge principal of a government school in Junagadh took his own life, with allegations of caste-based harassment being the apparent catalyst for his suicide. Kanti Chauhan, a Dalit, tragically consumed poison during school hours on a fateful Friday, which led to his hospitalisation. Despite medical intervention, he eventually succumbed to the poisoning at Junagadh Civil Hospital.
The incident has taken a grim turn as local authorities have booked five individuals on charges of abetment of suicide. Among those accused are Mukesh Borisagar, the sarpanch of the village, and three teachers – Ranjan Lathiya, Hansa Tank, and Bhavna. An additional individual, Vipul Kyada, is also named in the case.
Before ending his life, Chauhan recorded a video message in which he alleged that he was the target of insults and frequent caste-based slurs from the accused. He also accused Borisagar of pressuring him to divert government grants and inciting villagers and children against him by vilifying his caste. Chauhan further claimed that Borisagar had propagated derogatory messages about him and his caste on social media platforms.
In his video message, Chauhan pleaded, “I belong to a lower caste, but I am in the profession of teaching. Please don’t snatch this away from me. You are trying to malign us using our caste as a weapon, which is shameful for you as a sarpanch.” He also expressed his fear of returning to the school, fearing for his safety.
According to Chauhan’s allegations, he had been pressured to misuse government grants intended for the school management committee (SMC) on other village purposes. The situation escalated when Chauhan initiated extra classes, offering two additional hours before regular school hours for the benefit of his students. This initiative drew backlash when one student, who had been frequently absent, was scolded and asked to attend these additional classes, prompting displeasure from the student’s parents and the subsequent mounting pressure on Chauhan.
Chauhan’s removal from the principal’s post and his continued role as an in-charge principal appear to have been part of a conspiracy involving Borisagar and Kyada. The distressing incident has resulted in an outpouring of anger and grief, with the local Dalit community gathering at the Bagasara police station to demand the arrest of the accused. To address the situation, authorities have formed multiple teams of police officers to apprehend the individuals who are currently on the run.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, JP Bhanderi, expressed the urgency of the situation, stating, “We have formed 10 teams of 90 policemen to nab the accused who are on the run.” Himkar Singh, Superintendent of Police for Amreli district, assured that a thorough investigation would be conducted to determine the factors that led to this tragic suicide..