Anakha and Ardra Babu, two university-going sisters from the Dalit community in Idukki, took a case to Kerala High Court to get laptops that they are entitled to receive from a local government scheme as the COVID-19 pandemic limited education to online classes.
Students from poor and marginalized communities like SC/ST were affected by the technological divide. Out of that, girls were affected more than boys because parents prioritise boys' education.
Kerala's Local Self Government department had in 2015 launched a scheme to provide free computers/laptops to students who belong to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to help them do professional courses.
Anakha and Ardra did not get their laptops and Nedumkandam Panchayat President and Secretary (both Congress), and a CPI (M) member were aware of their plight but didn't help.
Anakha said that they were given various excuses. In 2018, they cited floods as the reason for the delay, in 2019, they blamed it on a technical issue in KELTRON (Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd), and in 2020, they blamed COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the fact they had online classes during the pandemic, students without access to technology are affected. The sisters chose to sue the panchayat and the government for denying them their rights.
They got help from a student who was working for ‘Dhisha Kerala’ - a not-for-profit working for the upliftment of students from marginalised communities, to get a lawyer.