In March, the Class 11 student of St Thomas Central School in Thiruvananthapuram had just performed a song at an event when her friend in Class 12 wrapped her in a hug in the corridor. That became a defining moment in their lives. The boy, 17, was suspended and the 16-year-old girl, who had joined barely a month before, was stopped from entering school. After widespread outrage, the school has yielded an inch and asked the central education board to let the boy sit for his exams.
The girl says she was also suspended, but the school claims she was officially not in their rolls.
The teen told NDTV: "That first day we were taken to the secretary's room. The secretary harassed me and my mother, slut-shamed me, called me sexually demeaning words... He told me I was not raised right, shamed my family... They kept telling me I was immoral and indecent..."
All because of a hug, which, the school said, was "too long to be a congratulatory one".
Sitting with her face covered, but speaking boldly, the teenager told NDTV: "No student deserves a suspension for five months over such a small issue. I went into depression... I cried a lot... couldn't sleep nights... I had suicidal thoughts."
With exams just two-three months away, both students have become desperate.
"I now just want to be able to write my class 11 exam in the same school. And I want the opportunity to finish my class 12 in another school, where I will be safe," the girl said. Her family has written to parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor for help.
The school claims the girl is not on their rolls as she never submitted the transfer certificate from her earlier school.
The student countered: "I paid my first term fees. The school suspended me just within one month of normal classes, so I couldn't submit the transfer certificate. They say I am not part of their school, but clearly I am."
The Secretary of St Thomas Central School has told NDTV, "If the girl submits her transfer certificate and fees in school, there is nothing to stop us from allowing her, since we have not taken any action against her."