A government college in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh has distributed bags, marked with "SC/ST Welfare Scheme", among Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe students. Pictures of the bags were circulated on social media, reported The Indian Express.

Nearly 250 of the 600 undergraduate and post-graduate SC/ST students of Rajiv Gandhi Government PG College have received these bags since August. The remaining students will also get the bags – containing a calculator, pen and notebooks – in the coming months, under the state government’s scheme.

The move has irked the students, who claimed that they felt humiliated and were being discriminated against, reported NDTV. However, they said they have no option but to use the bags since they cannot afford one of their own.

At first, college principal BR Nalvaya defended the action. "What's wrong if it is spelled out clearly, because the bags were distributed under a welfare scheme,” he had told The Indian Express. Later, he said that the remaining bags will not have anything that identify students by their caste. "I feel it is not a big deal, but now seeing the feedback we will erase the prints from the bags," he added.

However, the episode has provided political fodder to the Opposition. State Congress Committee President Arun Yadav said that the bags show the "anti-Dalit and anti-tribal" mindset of the Bharatiya Janata Party government. Former Congress legislator from Mandsaur, Meenakshi Natarajan, said, "It amounts to profiling." They demanded that the bags be recalled and threatened to stage protests.