New Delhi: An FIR has been registered against Tripta Tyagi, the school teacher who urged students to hit their eight-year-old Muslim classmate in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar. While the incident took place on August 24 morning, an FIR under Sections 323 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code was filed after a video of the violence went viral and created outrage.
Muzaffarnagar district magistrate Aravind Mallappa Bangari said an enquiry was conducted and it was found that the incident took place at Neha Public School, a private school. “The police approached the child’s parents [on Friday], but the parents did not want to complain then. But on Saturday morning they came to the police station and made a complaint, and an FIR was registered,” Bangari said.
As The Wire had reported, the boy’s family was earlier hesitant to approach the police because he did not think he would be properly heard. However, as the outrage on social media grew, he decided to take action as he did not want to happening to other children.
At around 9 am on August 24, the child was reportedly subjected to assault by other students at the behest of the teacher. Sources close to the child told The Wire that he was assaulted while the teacher said that “Mohammedans should be beaten up”. In the video of the incident, several children can be seen slapping the crying child, with Tyagi saying, “I have declared that all those Mohammadan [i.e. Muslim] children should be…(inaudible).”
A large number of opposition leaders have expressed outrage over the incident, and also blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party was creating an atmosphere of hate and communal violence that is leading to such incidents. “Sowing the poison of discrimination in the minds of innocent children, turning a holy place like school into a marketplace of hatred – nothing worse a teacher can do for the country. This is the same kerosene spread by the BJP which has set every corner of India on fire. Children are the future of India – do not hate them, we all have to teach love together,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on X (formerly Twitter).
“The poison of the divisive thinking of the ruling party has spread so much in the society that on the one hand an education teacher, Tripta Tyagi, is teaching the lesson of religious hatred since childhood and on the other hand, the security personnel RPF jawan, Chetan Kumar, is killing innocent people in the name of religion,” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also questioned the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and its chief Priyank Kangoo. As a first response, Kangoo had insisted that videos of the incident be removed from social media.
The video from Muzaffarnagar where a teacher is asking her students to slap a Muslim boy is a product of the last 9 years. The message being drilled into the minds of little children is that one can beat up & humiliate a Muslim without any repercussions.
The father of the…
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) August 26, 2023
On Saturday, after the FIR had been filed, The Indian Express reported that the NCPCR has told the Muzaffarnagar SSP to register an FIR against Tyagi under Section 17 (child being subjected to physical punishment/mental harassment) of the RTE Act, 2009. The SSP was also told to submit an action taken report within a week.
The BJP, however, appears to be trying to claim that this was not a communal incident. “It is no doubt a terrible idea to ask fellow students to beat another but there is no communal angle here, as is being alleged by usual suspects,” head of the BJP’s IT Cell Amit Malviya tweeted.
Malviya tweeted a video of a police officer to make this point. However, the officer too can be heard saying that the teacher was specifically targeting Mohammadan (Muslim) children “whose mothers don’t care about their education”.
जिन मोहम्मडन बच्चों की माँ बच्चों की पढ़ाई पर ध्यान नहीं देती, उन बच्चों का नास हो जाता है…
The teacher in Muzaffarnagar seems to have said (it can also be heard in the video in circulation), while asking other students in the class to hit the boy, as punishment, for not having… pic.twitter.com/F95ZFU9IbE
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 25, 2023
The teacher herself also claimed that there was no communal angle and that she told she other children to beat the eight year old because his parents had said she should be strict with him. She also claimed that she could not hit him herself because she has a disability. “There was pressure from the child’s parents to be strict with him. I am handicapped, so I made some students slap him so that he would start doing his homework,” she said, according to NDTV.
She also claimed that this was a “minor issue”. “This wasn’t my intention. I am accepting my mistake, but this was unnecessarily turned into a big issue,” she said. “I want to tell politicians that this was a minor issue. Leaders, including Rahul Gandhi have tweeted, but it was not such a big thing to tweet about. How will teachers teach if daily issues like these are made viral.”