“Kamar par maaro...kulho par maaro saale ke. Aye kya tum maar rahe ho isse, zor se maaro na, ab kiska number…”
A private school teacher in Uttar Pradesh’s Mansurpur, Tripta Tyagi, ordered students to assault their upper kindergarten classmate, slap him on the waist, buttocks, after “his cheeks turned red from the beatings”, “hit him harder” – purportedly for only one fault of his, he couldn’t recite the multiplication table of five.
The humiliation faced by seven-year-old Zaheer (name changed) went on for about 30 minutes as the teacher at Neha Public School continued to order his classmates to beat him one-by-one, while making references to his Muslim identity, suggesting that “Mohammadan” women did not care about their children’s studies. A video of the August 24 incident, which showed Zaheer standing in the classroom crying, went viral on Friday. It was recorded by the student’s cousin, Nadeem, who was visiting the school for work.
The disturbing incident, which led to the seven-year-old refusing to go back to the school, warranted strong action against the teacher by the police and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. However, the Uttar Pradesh police are yet to file an FIR in the matter. The incident has been registered as a non-cognizable offense under the sections of 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult) of the IPC. Notably, under the NCR, police cannot arrest an accused without the permission of the court.
While Mansurpur Police Station SHO Anil Chaudhary said the matter was being investigated, the public relations officer of Muzaffarnagar SP Sanjeev Suman said that “serious sections of the IPC” were not pressed against the teacher as she “did not have malicious intentions”. An NCPCR official, meanwhile, told Newslaundry that the child rights’ body was waiting for the police to submit their report.
Zaheer, who has been going to Neha Public School for two years, said it was the “first time that he was subjected to such behaviour” as the teacher asked him to stand in front of the class and “instructed other students to slap him”. He told Newslaundry, “I was being punished for not being able to recite the multiplication table. I was slapped on the face and on my back by my classmates…around 15-20 classmates hit me.” He added, “The teacher asked them to hit me with force...I will not go back to that school again.”
‘School has its own rules’
As Zaheer’s cousin Nadeem informed his family about the incident, his elder brother brought him back from the school. Subsequently, Zaheer’s father Irshad visited the school to meet the teacher. “When I asked the teacher why my son was subjected to such punishment, she said the school has its own rules and it’s going to be run as per those rules,” Irshad told Newslaundry.
Neha Public School, operating out of a hall, is reportedly the only school in Khoobagaon village of Mansurpur taluk. “That’s why most of the villagers send their children to the school,” he said, adding that he had initially struck a compromise as he didn’t want the incident “to become a Hindu-Muslim issue”, but he has now filed a complaint at Mansurpur Police Station.
“My son was beaten up for almost an hour…Police should take action against the teacher so that she should not harass any other child like this again,” Irshad said.
Accused teacher’s U-turn
Speaking to Newslaundry, teacher Tripta Tyagi backtracked on her earlier statement about the “school’s rules”. She “admitted her mistake”, however emphasised that “some steps” had to be taken to discipline children. “I should not have asked other children to beat him. My intention was not wrong. I am disabled so I was not able to get up from my seat...In order to control children and impart good education, we have to take some steps. That’s why I asked other children to beat him.”
She alleged that the viral video of the incident was edited. “Whatever I have said has been cut and I am seen saying only the word ‘Mohammadan’. I had said that Muslim women should not take their children to their mother’s house as exams are going to start, and children will miss out on their studies.”
Meanwhile, her husband Ravindra Tyagi, who also works at the school, claimed that 60 percent of the students of Neha Public School belonged to the Muslim community. Newslaundry was not able to corroborate this information.
No FIR filed
Prem Prakash Shukla, the public relations officer of Muzaffarnagar SP Sanjeev Suman told Newslaundry the case was registered “as per the complaint” and in such cases, “serious sections of the IPC couldn’t be slapped as the teacher didn’t have malicious intentions”.
The SHO of Mansurpur Police Station Anil Chaudhary also iterated that the teacher was booked as per the complaint. “We have booked the teacher under the sections of 323 and 504 of the IPC. We have put sections which were applicable as per the complaint submitted by the boy’s father.”
On the communal remarks made by the teacher, he said, “We are investigating the matter and if required, we will add more severe sections.”
NCPCR chairman Priyank Kaanoongo told Newslaundry, “We have asked the police to file an FIR in this case, and have asked them to produce the child in front of the child welfare committee…The FIR will be filed for sure. Let the superintendent of police respond. If it’s not filed, we will summon him to Delhi. We are waiting for him to submit the report.”
Similar incident with cousin
The August 24 incident wasn’t a first at the school. Zaheer’s 24-year-old cousin Nadeem told Newslaundry that another of his cousins was “subjected to the same behaviour” at least two weeks ago.
“This is happening for the second time in our family. My other cousin who studies in class two was also subjected to the same behaviour at least two weeks ago. But we ignored it because it’s normal to get beaten up in school if a student doesn’t study or doesn’t pay attention in the class,” said Nadeem, who had recorded the incident involving Zaheer while he was visiting the school to ask if there was any “levelling and cleaning work”.
“I am a JCB operator. I went to the school to ask madam if there was any work. When I reached, I saw that Zaheer was standing in front of the class crying. I made the video to show it to his parents,” he said, adding that Zaheer was slapped by his classmates throughout the 10 minutes he was at the school premises.