Two Class 6 students — also brothers — of a government school in Bihar were allegedly thrashed by their headmaster till they fainted for refusing to eat a mid-day meal of khichdi in which they found insects.
The children are Mahadalits, a special category for the most deprived sections of Dalits created by the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar, and their father is a daily wage labourer.
The rice-lentil dish was served in their school at Mithani Milki village of Vaishali district near Patna on Saturday.
When Sanjay Kumar, 12, and his brother, Chandeshwar Kumar, 13, told headmaster Surendra Prasad Singh about the insects in their food, he reportedly told them to pick the bugs out and get on with eating the meal.
When the boys refused, the headmaster allegedly caned them mercilessly. Locals found the brothers whimpering outside the school after they had regained their bearings.
The children's father, Rameshwar Das, first rushed them to a primary health centre for treatment. Later, he lodged a complaint with the police against the headmaster.
A local police official who did not want to be named said, "Some stick marks were seen on the bodies of the children.”
Headmaster Singh, however, denied beating the children. "I am being falsely implicated," he said and added that some people probably did not want him to be in charge of the school.
On Sunday, a deputy superintendent of police visited Mithani Milki to meet the children.
"He will submit his report to me soon," said Vaishali superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Sinha.
Police had not made any arrest in the case at the time of this copy going to press.