While incidents of religious intolerance persist in India, a viral video representing hate against Muslims has raised questions about the nominally secular state.
A teacher at a school in Uttar Pradesh — India’s most populous state —was seen telling Hindu kids to hit one of their Muslim classmates and asking for him to be expelled from the institution due to his religion.
The teacher, Trapta Tyagi, asked all the students to slap the Muslim child in the name of punishment “for not learning the lesson”.
She was heard specifically calling out “all the Muslim kids”, which indicates unrelenting Islamophobia in India.
“I have declared that all Muslim children should go,” Tyagi is heard saying in the video.
“You are correct, it ruins the education,” a male voice is heard responding while the victim stands in front of the class, wailing and terrified.
Mohammad Irshad, the victim’s father said he doesn’t want to take any action as he made a compromise after the school’s administration returned the kid’s tuition fee.
“My son is good at his studies. He takes tuitions. We fail to understand why the teacher treated him like this. It seems that the teacher is filled with hate,” the 42-year-old added.
A report by Al Jazeera quoted Irshad as saying that, although the teacher accepted her mistake and apologised for her behaviour, he would move his son to a different school.
“She said she will never treat her students badly again,” he said. “But this is not the environment where I want my son to get an education and grow up in.”
Religious discrimination in India, the world’s largest democracy, has reached a “frightening” level since Hindu nationalist BJP rose to power in 2015.
The northern state of Haryana became the latest hot spot for religious violence in India after a hard-line Hindu group marched through the Muslim-dominated Nuh district in late July, playing offensive music on powerful sound systems.
Subsequently, seven people were killed and over 70 injured in rioting in Nuh and Gurugram districts of Haryana state.
In its annual reports on religious freedom, the US State Department listed several attacks against India’s religious minorities including Muslims and Christians in the billion-plus nation.
Human rights groups also accuse Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule of fostering discriminatory religious nationalism targeting Muslim, Christian, and Sikh religious minorities.