On 1 June, Devika Balakrishnan, a 14-year-old Dalit student from Kerala’s Malappuram ended her life over not being able to attend online classes after her daily wage-earner father, blighted by ill health and lack of work during the lockdown, failed to repair the TV on which she was to attend virtual classes that began on Monday.
Schools have been shut in Kerala since the state locked down its 3.48 crores people on March 25 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, leaving thousands of children from Dalit, Adivasi and other backward communities whose families cannot afford expensive devices with no access to education.
Dalit activists slammed the Left Democratic Front government for not providing facilities to the students from marginalized sections of the society. Dalit intellectuals said that the lack of infrastructure has a direct correlation with the caste location of a student and they called the Dalit student’s death as ‘institutional murder.”
Maktoob photographer Shakeeb KPA visited Devika’s house and school.