Indian school closed after teacher made students slap their Muslim classmate

Police charge Hindu teacher over incident at private school in northern Uttar Pradesh state

Authorities in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state have closed a private school and police have charged a 60-year-old Hindu teacher after she made her students take turns at slapping and beating up their seven-year-old Muslim classmate for failing to learn his multiplication tables.

In a video clip that went viral on social media over the weekend, Tripta Tyagi is heard ordering children at a local private school in Muzaffarnagar district, 120km northeast of New Delhi, to strike the terrified Muslim boy even harder, as he weeps before his fellow students.

At one point in the 40-second clip, she even scolds a student for not hitting the victim hard enough, asking: “Why are you hitting him so lightly? Hit him harder . . . Hit him on the back . . . his face is turning red [due to the slaps] so hit him on the back now.”

Ms Tyagi, who has not been arrested and remains defiant over her actions, also refers to the boy’s Muslim faith and is heard commenting pejoratively in the video about “Mohammedan children” in general.


She told the New Delhi Television news channel over the weekend that she was not ashamed of her behaviour, as she had served the locals well as a teacher and that they all supported her. She also justified meting out corporal punishment to students to control them.

However, in a separate clip Ms Tyagi claimed that since she was disabled and unable to get up and hit the child herself, she had made other students do it instead. She also alleged that the video had been “tampered” with, and only a portion of what she had actually said had been aired.

Meanwhile, it was reported on Monday that when Irshad, the father of the schoolboy, confronted Ms Tyagi over beating his son she threatened him with legal action. “I then decided to stop sending my son to that school,” he told The Wire news service.

State police have filed a case against Mohammed Zubair, a fact-checker and journalist with Alt News, for sharing the video. Zubair told The Wire that the case was registered despite him deleting the video and notifying his followers of it on X (formerly Twitter).

The Muzaffarnagar incident has sparked countrywide outrage, as sectarian tensions between India’s majority Hindu community and minority Muslimscontinue under the government led by prime minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The government came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for another five years in 2019.

Hindus comprise more than 80 per cent of India’s population of 1.4 billion, while Muslims constitute about 16 per cent.

Opposition Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi condemned the video and and accused the BJP of continuing to foment religious unrest across the country.

He said on X that the BJP had sown the “poison of discrimination” in the minds of innocent children and turned a school into a “marketplace of hatred”. He added: “This is the same kerosene spread by the BJP that has set every corner of India on fire.”

Riots had erupted last month in Nuh, adjoining Delhi, after Hindus and Muslims clashed during a religious procession organised by a group closely associated with the BJP. Similar incidents have occurred periodically in recent years in Uttar Pradesh, which is also ruled by the BJP and has a large Muslim population.

Rahul Bedi

Rahul Bedi

Rahul Bedi is a contributor to The Irish Times based in New Delhi