Students forced to stand with their pants down to their knees as punishment for being late to school
The incident, which occurred at the Chaitanya Bharathi School in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, has sparked protests from parents and child rights activists
While corporal punishments in schools have been around for generations, one school in India seems to have taken it too far, stripping students as young as nine-years-old naked and making them stand in the hot sun. The reason? They were late to school.
According to The News Minute, the incident unfolded at the Chaitanya Bharathi School in the the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, December 26.
A video captured of the shocking incident shows six students standing in the sun with their pants down to their ankles and their arms raised in the air.
The video soon went viral and caught the attention of children's rights activists who said the parents blamed the principal of the school, Maharaja Naidu, for ordering the punishment. They also said the principal punished children harshly for not completing their homework.
Naidu, who also happens to own the school, is now said to be on the run, and parents could be seen staging a protest outside the school building on Thursday. Since the incident came to light, there have been allegations that there may be others colluding with Naidu to hush up the situation.
Achyuta Rao, president of a child rights organization Balala Hakula Sagham, based in the state's capital, claimed that the Mandal Educational Officer (MEO) Leela Rani is working to suppress reports. "Our organization had a word with the MEO," he said. "Instead of immediately canceling the recognition of the school, the MEO Leela Rani is trying to cover up the issue and has said that she will be taking up the matter with the higher authorities."
"Is that how an issue of such serious nature has to be dealt with?" he asked. "The principal of the school should be booked under POCSO Act as it’s a clear case of exploiting the children’s modesty. The children should also be given psychological counseling in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience."
The POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act Rao brought up was formed in 2012 to protect children — defined as a person below 18 years of age — from offenses of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and pornography and to provide a child-friendly system for the trial of these offenses.
Rao's organization has filed an official complaint with the country's National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and demanded action under the POCSO Act. Police have not yet registered a case against the school management.
If convicted under the act, depending on the gravity of the offense, the accused will face a minimum imprisonment of 10 years that can later be extended to imprisonment for life. They may also have to pay fines if the court sees it fit.