India principal 'puts students through trial by fire'

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Image caption Corporal punishment is banned in Indian schools

Police in India have lodged a complaint against a school principal after she allegedly forced 13 pupils to hold their hands over a candle flame.

The head teacher, Sushanti Hembrom, was trying to find out if one of the nine-year-olds had stolen money from another classmate.

The incident occurred on Wednesday in a private school in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

Ms Hembrom was suspended the next day after parents complained.

Police told BBC Hindi's Ravi Prakash that the teacher said she had expected the guilty student to step forward out of fear.

But all the students did as they were told and put their hands over the flame. While some of them quickly snatched their hands away, seven sustained burns.

At least one of them, whose hand Ms Hembrom is alleged to have forcibly held over the flame, was injured badly and had to be admitted to hospital. He was discharged on Thursday.

Police said Ms Hembrom, who has since admitted to what happened, said she had made a "big mistake" and has apologised to the students as well as their parents.

Corporal punishment is banned in Indian schools but continues to be widespread. It is also not unusual for stripping to be used as a form of punishment in schools.

In March 2017, parents were horrified to learn that 70 girls aged about 10 were stripped naked in a residential school in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh to "check for menstrual blood".

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