Indian teenagers expelled from school for hugging

A hug between two teenagers in southern India has snowballed into a national controversy after their school expelled them for a “public display of affection”. The BBC’s Ashraf Padanna spoke to them.

After she had sung on stage in a competition at St Thomas Central School in Kerala, the 15-year-old asked her friend, a boy of 16, how she had done. He hugged her, congratulating her on the performance.

“It [the hug] lasted only for a second or two,” the girl, who did not want to be photographed for this article, told the BBC.

“There were a lot of students and teachers around, and I didn’t feel [I had done] anything wrong.”

But one of the teachers reportedly complained to the principal and, in the girl’s words, “all hell broke loose”.The following day, on 22 July, the pair were suspended indefinitely. Then, four months later, on 22 November, the boy was expelled. Neither has been named in the media.

“Schooling is also about the reformation of the child,” principal Sebastian T Joseph told the BBC. “We have given him a chance to apologise, but he and his parents had absolutely no remorse.”

But the boy said he had apologised “immediately”.