NEW DELHI - Police in India are investigating a video that shows a school teacher telling her pupils to slap their seven-year-old Muslim classmate. The boy is filmed in tears as he is slapped, allegedly for getting his times tables wrong. The video went viral on social media, and has triggered widespread dismay and condemnation.
India’s opposition leader Rahul Gandhi blamed the government for stoking religious intolerance.
The incident happened on Thursday at a private school in Uttar Pradesh, a northern state. “Why are you hitting him so lightly? Hit him hard,” the teacher is heard telling the children, as the boy stands crying.
“Start hitting him on the waist... His face is turning red, hit him on the waist instead,” she added. Authorities in India confirmed the video was real, and said they would take action. The victim’s father reported the incident to police in the Muzaffarnagar district, and has pulled him out of the school. But he did not press charges. Rights groups have warned that hate crimes and violence against India’s large Muslim minority have increased since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.
Uttar Pradesh has been governed by his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2017. Mr Gandhi said the party had contributed to religious tensions felt across India. “Sowing the poison of discrimination in the minds of innocent children, turning a holy place like school into a marketplace of hatred,” he posted to social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “This is the same kerosene spread by the BJP that has set every corner of India on fire.” In June during a visit to the US Mr Modi told journalists that there was “absolutely no space for discrimination” in India