Indian authorities vowed Saturday to take action after a primary school teacher ordered her students to take turns slapping a fellow Muslim, and footage of the incident sparked outrage online.
Footage of Thursday’s incident shows a teacher at a private school in Uttar Pradesh ordering the students to slap the seven-year-old, apparently because he made a mistake in the multiplication table.
She is heard saying to the children as the boy stands crying, “Why do you hit him lightly? Hit him hard.” “They start hitting him on the waist (…) his face turns red,” she added.
Police Inspector Satyanarayan Prajapat confirmed that the footage had been verified, and stated in a video clip posted on social media: “Administrative action will be taken against the teacher.”
While the father of the child decided to enroll his son in another school, he refused to file a case with the police in the Muzaffarnagar district, where the accident occurred, according to a separate statement.
The incident sparked widespread condemnation on the Internet, while opposition leader Rahul Gandhi blamed Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party for fomenting religious intolerance in the Hindu-majority country.
Gandhi wrote in a post on “X” (formerly Twitter), “planting the poison of discrimination in the minds of innocent children and turning a sacred place like a school into a market for hate.”
“There is nothing worse that a teacher can do to the country,” he added, noting that “this is the same fuel that the Bharatiya Janata Party has spread and that has set fire to all parts of India.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party has ruled the state of Uttar Pradesh since 2017.. The state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is accused of encouraging acts of violence carried out by locals against the state’s Muslims and introducing discriminatory laws to marginalize this religious group.
Rights groups say hate crimes and violence against India’s large Muslim minority have been on the rise since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014.
India has a population of 1.4 billion people, including 210 million Muslims.