A middle-aged woman is heard telling either a parent or a male colleague, who is off camera, that she maintains that all “Muslim children should be packed off…”
She continues to talk as a young boy in school uniform stands in front of a group of uniformed students who are sitting on the floor. One after another, the other boys, all apparently aged between 8 and 10 years, are called by the teacher to slap the student, who is trying his best not to cry. His fault: being Muslim apparently.
The teacher can be heard asking her students to slap the boy harder; when she says that “Muslim boys fail to learn unless beaten up”, the man off camera laughs.
This is what makes up a video that has been going massively viral among Indians since Friday. Most commenters are clearly shocked and horrified at the sheer inhumanity of the episode.
Some are speculating that the incident occurred in a private school in Khubbapur village of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. A few users on X (formerly Twitter) have tagged law enforcement and demanded action in the matter. Digital journalist Alishan Jafri has said that he spoke to the father of the eight-year-old students, who told Jafri that he has stopped sending his son to school. Jafri has posted, “He doesn’t want to take legal action against the teacher because he doesn’t believe that there’s any scope for justice (and it) can vitiate communal amity.”
Amid all this, it is not clear as yet why the young boy was made to go through this ordeal.
Meanwhile, the video has evoked sharp reactions. Most respondents are anguished and shocked at the impunity with which the teacher is seen asking other students to slap their hapless classmate.
“The (undated) video tells you just what hate can do, when condoned and even encouraged by authorities. This is not a story just about bigotry that lives in ordinary people but tests the state and centre’s reaction to it,” read a comment.
“Watching such abuse and seeing the boy cry will scar each and every child in that classroom despite the nervous giggles. She isn’t just torturing the Muslim child, she is causing trauma for all the students. All of them are victims,” was another reaction on X.
Sanjay Hegde, a Supreme Court lawyer, commented, “Again and again, the question that haunts me is, children have a very keen sense of injustice. Did not one of them stand up to the teacher and say this is wrong?”
In response, a user said, “Some children are unfortunate to have the worst role models — bigoted parents. They learn early to believe in differences. So, it’s likely they’d consider this teacher’s orders as normal, just as students shouting Jai Sri Ram slogans did on seeing Muslim students offering namaz.”
Meanwhile, the video has left many people agonising about the future. “It is very, very troubling. Wish I could close my eyes to what’s happening,” posted a woman, who is Muslim and a mother. “Parents teach their kids to save their own skin, come what may,” said another.
“There are more Muslims in nuclear-armed South Asia than there are people in North America. The bigotry, Islamophobia and hatred for Muslims are laying the groundwork for genocide and civil war that will make 1940s Europe look like a scuffle,” warned one user.
“There are more Muslims in India than there are people in Brazil,” wrote another.
“… (this)… breaks my heart! We grew up to songs of unity and diversity and being equal! This hate in children’s hearts is poisonous and is spoiling our societal fabric beyond repair!” another person reacted.