A shocking video of a teacher instructing her students to slap a Muslim classmate has sparked outrage and condemnation in India. The incident took place on Thursday at a private school in Uttar Pradesh, a northern state governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The video, which went viral on social media, shows a seven-year-old boy standing in front of his classmates, crying as they take turns to slap him. The teacher is heard encouraging the students to hit him harder, saying “His face is turning red, hit him on the waist instead”. The boy was allegedly punished for getting his times tables wrong.
The victim’s father reported the incident to the police in the Muzaffarnagar district, but did not press charges. He said he did not want to create any trouble and that he had withdrawn his son from the school. The district authorities have ordered the school to shut down and said they would take action against the teacher.
The video has triggered widespread dismay and criticism from various quarters, including India’s opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, who blamed the BJP government for stoking religious intolerance. He said the teacher was “sowing the poison of discrimination in the minds of innocent children” and that the BJP had “set every corner of India on fire” with its divisive policies.
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 the epicenter of several incidents of mob lynching, communal riots, and police brutality against Muslims.