Opposition parties and advocacy groups on Friday described as “culture of hate” an incident in which a teacher ordered students to slap their seven-year-old Muslim classmate.
The incident took place at the Neha Public School in Khubapur village of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district. In a video that has been widely shared on social media, as one student strikes the Muslim boy who is standing in front of the class, the teacher can be heard urging other students to get up and hit him harder.
“I have declared – all these Muslim children, go to anyone’s area,” she can be heard telling a man off camera who agrees. She then asks another boy to hit the Muslim student on his back, saying: “Start hitting him on the waist... His face is turning red, hit him on the waist everyone.”
The child studied in the lower kindergarten, his parents told Scroll. His father, Irshad Tyagi, a farmer, identified the teacher as Tripta Tyagi.
Following the incident, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal asked if Chief Minister Adityanath will speak about the incident or if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will condemn it publicly.
“Will the teacher be prosecuted”, he asked. “Or will the culture of ‘hate’ be allowed to flourish?”
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi alleged that the incident is the result of “kerosene” spread by the Bharatiya Janata Party that has set fires across the country.
“Sowing the poison of discrimination in the minds of innocent children, turning a holy place like school into a market place of hatred – nothing worse a teacher can do for the country,” he added.
The Indian American Muslim Council also described the incident as a “result of rampant Hindu radicalization”.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate asked if the state of mind of the Muslim boy could be changed after his “humiliation”.
“The child’s father says he cannot afford going to court and so will not file an FIR [first information report],” Shrinate said in a video. “But an FIR should be filed by taking congnisance of the incident.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that the incident is a product of the last nine years of Modi government.
“The message being drilled into the minds of little children is that one can beat up and humiliate a Muslim without any repercussions,” Owaisi said in a tweet. “The father of the child has withdrawn his kid from school and given in writing that he doesn’t want to pursue the matter because he knows he won’t get justice and instead it might vitiate the ‘atmosphere’.”
Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Singh said that MLAs from his party in Muzzafarnagar will ensure that the police file a case against Tyagi and the child’s education is not disrupted.
“Muzaffarnagar school video is a painful warning of how deep rooted religious divides can trigger violence against the marginalised, minority communities,” Singh said in a tweet.
Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas BV called it a “blatant violation of human rights and dignity, and a despicable act of hatred and violence”.
The police have told Scroll they will file a case after watching the video and recotding the statements of the child and his parents.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also taken cognisance of the incident and “legal action is being taken”, the organisation’s chairperson, Priyank Kanoongo, said on the social media site X.
Kanoongo asked social media users to refrain from sharing the video to protect the identities of both the boy and his classmates.