Several users of microblogging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday complained that their posts about a teacher ordering students to slap their seven-year-old Muslim classmate had been blocked in India.
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.
The incident led to widespread criticism on social media, with many people calling for the teacher, Tripta Tyagi, to be arrested. However, many users on the microblogging platform shared screenshots of their tweets that were no longer visible on the site. The posts were said to have been withheld in the country “in response to a legal demand”.
Among those whose posts were withheld was Shadab Khan, who was said to have first posted a video about the incident.
Many social media users – including actor Urmila Matondkar and journalists Rohini Singh and Gargi Rawat – asked why their posts were blocked even though they had not used derogatory language or spread incorrect information.
Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate alleged that the Centre on Friday issued emergency orders to Twitter to block the video of the child being slapped. She claimed that on Saturday morning, the government issued additional orders to block links and hashtags about the case.
“Gagging the net is not the solution – introspect on how a teacher is so vile and full of bigotry that she singles out a boy for his religion and gets his own classmates to slap him,” Shrinate said.
The Centre has not yet commented on the matter.
On Friday evening, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo had urged social media users not to share the video of the incident, as disclosing the identity of the child was an offence.
The teacher, Tripta Tyagi, was on Saturday booked on non-cognisable charges based on a complaint by the child’s parents, a day after they had refused to pursue the matter. The first information report has been filed under Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.
The non-cognisable nature of the case means that the police cannot arrest the accused without a warrant, and need permission from a magistrate to start an investigation.
Tyagi, on her part, claimed that a “minor issue” had been exaggerated after the video went viral. She denied that her action was communal in nature and said that the video had been edited in a misleading manner