Thiruvananthapuram: Students expelled over "friendly hug"! Back to medieval times?
In a shocking incident, a girl and a boy -students of a leading private school in Thiruvananthapuram- have been expelled for hugging in public, sparking a debate on discipline and morality across Kerala.
The boy hugged his junior to congratulate her on winning the first prize in a Western musical contest.
This friendly, congratulatory hug has now led to their expulsion.
Here's what happened.
Kerala: Students expelled from school for hugging
Incident took place during a school event
Following the incident on 21 July, the school's principal, Sebastian T Joseph, immediately summoned both the students' parents, who submitted a written apology to the management.
However, the Class-XI girl and the Class-XII boy were suspended in August and later expelled in November.
The boy's parents then approached the State Child Rights Commission, which ordered the school to allow the students to attend school.
Kerala HC dismisses Child Rights Commission's order
The school, however, has challenged the State Child Rights Commission's order in the Kerala High Court. Surprisingly, the HC quashed the Commission's directive, upholding the school's decision as it felt the principal was carrying out his responsibility to "maintain decorum and morality" in school.
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School forces girl to accept it was "forced hug"
The students claimed that their hug was a friendly and mutual one that lasted a few seconds. The school, however, claimed it was a "prolonged hug" that was inappropriate, violating the school discipline.
The girl said the school management forced her to give an undertaking that it wasn't mutual but a forced hug.
She refused and got expelled from the school last month.
"Never expected things will come to such a pass"
The Class-XI girl said: "It was a friendly mutual hug. My friend was happy with the way I sang."
The girl also said the school management got some pictures from her Instagram account and portrayed them in a bad light.
She added, "Our future is bleak since many schools that came to know about this are denying chances to continue education."
Class-XI student to appeal against Kerala HC order
The parents of both the students said the school had humiliated them.
The Class-XII boy said he would appeal against the HC verdict to appear for his board exams in 2018.
His father said their friendly hug was "blown out of proportion".
But the school says the students were warned, but they prolonged the hug, insulting the teacher who asked them to stop.
Our intention is to reform the child: Principal
Principal Joseph stated: "We don't want to rake it up again. The high court has given a verdict, everyone has to accept it."
He said the school doesn't have a problem if the CBSE allows the boy to take exams, adding he doesn't have the required attendance.
Joseph said, "Our intention is to reform the child...not to break him, but to make him."
Moral compasses are leading students back to medieval era: Alumni
The school maintains it suspended the boy to discipline him; the CBSE would decide whether he would take board exams.
Joseph said they allowed him to take an exam in September even though an inquiry panel found their "five-minute-long hug" was "intentional" and "with bad intentions".
Criticizing the school's decision, its alumni started an online petition demanding the institution to revoke the students' expulsion.