Six-year-old Anusha Ashwathappa died in Chikballapur, India, after being pushed into a giant, boiling pot of sambar in her school’s lunchroom. Sambar is a vegetable stew dish that is often served in the Southeastern region of India. It’s cooked at extremely hot temperatures.
According to the Daily Mail, Ashwathappa was “caught between hordes of other children running through the verandah” as she made her way towards the lunch room. When she arrived in the lunchroom, she was somehow pushed into the pot of boiling liquid and was 70% burned. Details as to how Ashwathappa was pushed into the pot are still uncertain.
According to the Times of India, Ashwathappa mistook a bell from the high school nearby as the bell that signified it was lunchtime.
“The high school and primary wings are next to each other. It’s common to see students from both wings getting confused by the bell and rushing out of classrooms,” Ashwathappa’s uncle Ramu Nanjappa told The Times of India.
After Ashwathappa suffered her injuries, locals and authorities at the school called an ambulance. The emergency vehicle never arrived, and headmaster of the school Krishnappa had to personally drive Ashwathappa to the hospital, where she died hours later.
The incident is still under investigation, but Krishnappa has been suspended by government authorities. He and the school’s three cooks are being examined as to what occurred. None of the school’s staff came to work on the day following the incident, out of fear that local villagers might retaliate. Chikballapur is located near Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka, one of India’s Southern states.
India recently rolled out a new meal scheme, which aims to provide young students with free hot meals. Since the program began in May, the country has experienced at least a few incidents. Twenty children died and sixty were hospitalized last month after eating a lunch that was deemed “poisoned” in Bihar. Other schools have found dead lizards and scorpions in meals, resulting in mass illnesses of the children. Ashwathappa’s death is likely to push teachers further in their attempts to reform this new system.