Authorities shut down Indian school where headteacher encouraged beating of Muslim pupil

Tripta Tyagi had previously snubbed the assault on the child as a ‘minor issue’ and claimed that it was not her intention (Rajsatta Post/screenshot)
Tripta Tyagi had previously snubbed the assault on the child as a ‘minor issue’ and claimed that it was not her intention (Rajsatta Post/screenshot)

Authorities in India have shut down a school days after footage of a teacher encouraging students to hit a Muslim pupil sparked outrage in the country.

Tripta Tyagi, a teacher at the Neha Public School in Uttar Pradesh state’s Muzaffarnagar city, was heard asking other children to hit a Muslim child “harder” as he stood frozen before the class in tears.

The teacher has been charged under several sections of India’s criminal code, and state officials told the Hindustan Times newspaper that the school has been shuttered temporarily, adding that they are seeking clarification its certification to function as an educational institute.

The school in Uttar Pradesh, which is India’s most populated state, could still reopen once authorities clear the certification question, Shubham Shukla, an education official in Muzaffarnagar, told the outlet.

“We have conducted an inquiry… We found that the school doesn’t meet the criteria of the department. We have issued a notice to the school to seal it and authorities are conducting an investigation to take further action. Notice has also been served to the teacher for hitting the child,” he told The Indian Express newspaper.

“It’s an under-construction building and the teacher taught the students at her home,” one official told the outlet on the condition of anonymity. “There were no fans or lights for the children. There were no sections for classes 1 to 5. We have sealed it for now.”

The official said the students, including the child of Muslim faith, would be given admission to a government school in Khabbupur village near Muzaffarnagar.

“There is a government primary school in the village. Children who want to go there will be enrolled there. Students who wish to continue studying in the private school, can do so since they are already paying the fees. The formalities including transfer certificates (of the children) will be completed by the department so that the parents do not face any additional burden,” Mr Shukla was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

When Ms Tyagi’s family was approached for comment on the action by the authorities, they said they were “disturbed”, reported the Indian Express.

However, in a separate video that later surfaced on social media, the teacher attempted to defend herself by saying that since she was disabled and could not get up to hit the child herself, she made her students do it.

She said her actions did not have any religious bias.

“I made a mistake by getting the child beaten up by the students. I am handicapped and could not get up,” Ms Tyagi said. She claimed the video of the incident was tampered with and only a portion of what she said was shown in it.

But in another interview with Indian news channel NDTV, Ms Tyagi remained unapologetic about her actions, saying: “I am not ashamed.

“I have served the people of this village as a teacher. They all are with me.”

Defending her use of corporal punishment, Ms Tyagi said it was important to “control” the students at school. “This is how we tackle them,” she said.

The teacher had previously dismissed the assault on the child as a “minor issue”.

Local politicians on Saturday mediated a “compromise” between the family and the young boys at the centre of the incident. The father of the boy later told news channels there was no religious angle to the beatings, even though the teacher was heard in the video speaking about “Mohammedan (Muslim) children”.

She told the police that what she meant was, that “the mothers of those Muslim children who do not pay attention to the studies of their wards, their academics get totally destroyed”, a senior official said.