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Page last updated at 14:06 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 15:06 UK

Delhi girl 'left in sun to die'

School children in India
Municipal schools are often accused of treating poorer children badly

A young Delhi girl has died in hospital after her teacher made her stand for hours in the sun, her family say.

They say the 11-year-old was being punished by her teacher for not reciting the alphabet properly.

The girl apparently fainted after hours in the hot midday sun. She slipped into a coma before dying in hospital.

Police confirmed her death on Friday and are awaiting post mortem results. No arrests have been made. Education officials deny the family's claims.

They told The Times of India that the girl was not severely punished and died because she suffered from frequent seizures.

"The girl was in detention for shortage of attendance," an education department official told the paper.

"She has been irregular with her classes because of fits. On Wednesday too, she had fits, following which her parents were informed."

Some reports say the girl was hit by her teacher before being forced to stand in the sun. The death is being closely followed by Indian television networks.

Inquiry

Media have named the girl as Shano Khan and say she studied at a local municipal school in the city's north-east. Little else is known about her apart from reports that her father is a waiter.

"She died in the hospital. We are awaiting the medical report of the girl to ascertain whether she died due to corporal punishment," deputy commissioner of police for outer Delhi, Atul Katiyar, told the Press Trust of India.

The agency said the teacher concerned and the school principal had been suspended.

Responding to the growing media coverage, the minister for women and child welfare, Renuka Chaudhary, called for an inquiry and the arrest of the accused teacher.

Delhi's mayor, Anjali Mehra, announced that a formal inquiry was already under way.

The BBC's Sunil Raman in Delhi says that most students who attend municipal schools come from poor backgrounds and teachers are often reported to treat them harshly.

Private schools in Delhi do not allow corporal punishment.



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