The victim, Nibedita Dey, was a student of the English-medium Sophy Mercy School in eastern Assam's Sivasagar town, some 400km from Guwahati. Her father is a college lecturer.
Recently, the school authorities found an 'objectionable letter' in the girl's school bag. The authorities then asked the girl to inform her parents to come to school. But the girl kept the matter to herself as she was afraid of punishment from parents.
So when she went to school the next day she was allegedly tortured, both mentally and physically allegedly by the principal. She set herself on fire at home on Saturday when no one was around. On hearing her screams the neighbours rushed to her house and took her to a local hospital. Later, she was shifted to a hospital in Dibrugarh where she succumbed to her burn injuries on Sunday.
In her statement in the hospital, the 12-year-old girl expressed innocence saying she was falsely implicated.
An FIR has been lodged with the police by the girl's parents against school authorities. The police have detained the accused teacher for questioning.
"It appears to be a case of suicide. However, we are still investigating the case," said Sivasagar superintendent of police Bijoy Kuligam.
The incident has sparked off protests in the district with a number of organisations demanding action against the erring teacher.
"It is a very unfortunate incident. We have demanded a judicial probe because we want the culprit to get punished," said Ashwini Chetia, a leader of All Tai Ahom Students' Union.
"Harassment in school has cost a minor girl her life. We want the state government to step in to stop harassment of students in schools by teachers across the state," said Prabal Dey of the All Assam Bengali Youth Students' Federation.