Indian classroom
School principal charged for canning students mercilessly - Representational image Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

In a very shocking incident, a school principal has been booked for allegedly caning students because they did not pay their fees on time. She was charged under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code.

The principal identified only as Sunitha was charged after a video of the alleged incident, which took place in December 2017 in the south Indian city of Hyderabad, surfaced online on Friday, 9 February. The video showed Sunitha forcing students of grade eight and 10 to stand outside a class and then beating them. However, it was not clear who made the video.

The New Minute website has reported that after the video [Graphic content, viewer discretion is advised] went viral, activists started demanding strict action against the accused and the District Education Officer.

"The principal should be arrested for the crime. How are children responsible for not being able to pay the fee?

"The issue of fee payment is between parents and the school management; students should not be involved. Besides, how can one cane students? What if these students commit suicide or take some extreme step after being humiliated like this?" child rights activist Achyuta Rao, who heads Balala Hakkula Sangham, said.

Meanwhile, Shayam Sunder, the Inspector of Hussaini Alam police station, said: "We have booked a case against the school principal based on the complaint made by the child rights activist Achyuta Rao.

"We have come to know that the video is from December 2017, but so far no one has come forward to make statements on behalf of the children or the school. Further investigation is underway and we will be going to the school to conduct further inquiries."

He added that Sunitha has admitted to caning the students, but "she stated that she was only trying to discipline the students as the board exams are around the corner", The New Indian Express reported.

The incident comes on the heels of another case that happened in the same city, where a 14-year-old girl killed herself after she was stopped from writing examination because she did not pay the fees.

The teenage girl allegedly took the extreme step after she was humiliated by her teacher and principal in front of the entire class. It was reported that the teachers had also hurled casteist slurs at her.