Beaten to death over spelling error

Police in Uttar Pradesh are searching for a teacher accused of beating a low-caste student to death over a spelling mistake.

On Tuesday, the police had to suppress violent protests triggered by the incident.

Nikhil Dohre, a class 10 student at the Adarsh Inter College near Auraiya city, was struck with a rod and kicked by his high school teacher Ashwini Singh until he fell unconscious. Nikhil had misspelt the word "social" in an exam, according to a police report filed by his father Raju Dohre.

Mr Dohre, a resident of Vaisholi village, claimed his 15-year-old son was thrashed by the teacher in class and fainted after he made a mistake in a social science test on Sept 7.

"When we learnt about his condition, all of us rushed to the school where we were threatened with dire consequences," Mr Dohrey told The Hindustan Times.

"The school later agreed to have my son treated in a private hospital.

"The internal injuries in the assault were grievous, so the doctors referred him to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences in Saifai on Saturday night."

The boy died from his injuries on Monday and the accused teacher fled.

"He is on the run but we will arrest him soon," police officer Mahendra Pratap Singh told AFP.

The teacher also allegedly threatened the student's family and hurled casteist remarks at them, police added.

School principal Sushil Kumar Tiwari said he had been on leave since Sept 5 and learnt about the case when he returned to work on Monday.

Mr Dohre is a member of the Dalit community which sits at the lowest rung of India's caste system and has been subject to prejudice and discrimination for centuries.

Hundreds of people took to the streets on Monday after news of the boy's death spread in Auraiya district.

The crowd demanded the teacher's arrest before the cremation of the boy's body and torched a police vehicle.

It was only after senior police and district officials rushed to the spot and assured them of swift action that the boy's family and Bhim Army (a Dalit rights organisation) members agreed to take the body to their village for cremation.

Around a dozen protesters were arrested, Mr Singh said.

"We had to use force to quell the mob and take the situation under control," said Superintendent of Police Charu Nigam.

He added that three police teams were formed to arrest the teacher and the classroom in which the incident occurred has been sealed.

The district inspector of schools said orders have been issued to suspend the teacher and assured full support of the education department in the police probe.

However, the opposition parties accused the state government of being negligent in dealing with the matter. They demanded immediate action against the accused and compensation for the victim's family.

"The news of the death of the student is not only sad but also very sensitive," tweeted Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

"The government should take appropriate action and also give compensation to the victim's family."

The party's media cell said: "It's been 18 days, the teacher was allowed to flee. The teacher should be arrested immediately and the government should give Rs50 lakh ($88,257) compensation to the relatives of the deceased student."

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati tweeted: "The case of government apathy and negligence is gaining momentum. People are very angry due to lack of justice and proper action. Instead of hiding such serious cases, the government should ensure effective action immediately."

AFP, Indo-Asian News Service


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