Bihar principal fired for students’ ‘trial by fire’

Patna: Authorities have fired a school principal in Jharkhand state after she subjected a group of students to “trial by fire” to prove their innocence when the money of a student was stolen. Some 13 students suffered burn injuries in the incident.

The bizarre incident took place in Baruta Memorial School at Chakradharpur in West Singhbhoom district on Wednesday but the matter was reported to the police on Thursday.

Reports said a grade four student Anand Bodra had on Wednesday complained to the principal Sushanti Hembrom that someone had stolen his money totalling Rs200 (Dh11).

The principal conducted extensive searches in the classroom, asking all the students to remove their shoes and shocks. She also searched their schoolbags, but failed to find the money.

“Eventually, the principal lighted a candle on the desk and asked us to put our hands above the lighted candle to prove our innocence; 13 students suffered burn injuries in the process,” Raushan Kumar Das, who also suffered serious burn injuries, told the media on Friday. He has been admitted to a local government hospital with the other injured students for treatment.

Angry parents later protested in front of the school and demanded action against the school principal. Subsequently, she was dismissed and a criminal case was also registered against her with the local police station. The police are investigating the case.

“This is horrible. We have registered a case against the principal but during the course of inquiry we found that other school teachers also supported the principal. They would also face similar action,” a local sub-divisional Pradeep Prasad told the media on Friday.

“Principal’s act is not pardonable. We will initiate stern action against her as three students have suffered serious burn injuries in their palm. We have ordered for proper treatment of the students and also asked the school management to bear the total expenditure to be incurred on treatment of the schoolchildren,” the official added. The official also pulled up the father of the church that runs the school.

The child welfare committee too has sought stern legal action against the principal for her “cruel act”.

The principal has apologised for her conduct. “I committed the mistake but my intention was to catch the culprit who had stolen the money and not to punish the students and injure them,” the principal told the media on Friday.

The incident follows that of over a dozen schoolgirls being strip-searched by their teachers in Dhandbad district of Jharkhand after one student complained she had lost her pocket money. Reports said many students cried and begged for mercy but the teachers didn’t pay any heed to their request.

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