A 15-year-old Dalit student was allegedly brutally beaten to death by a teacher, who is part of an upper caste, after the boy made spelling errors on a class test, police said.
The teen, identified by the Times of India as Nikhit Kumar of Vaisholi village of Auraiya, was a student at the Adarsh Inter College on Phanfood Road, where he was hit with a rod and repeatedly kicked for incorrectly spelling the word “social” on the test on Sept. 7.
The boy has since succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“He gained consciousness while being taken to a private hospital but had difficulty in breathing,” the boy’s father said. “Doctors said he had suffered internal injuries. In between, he was treated at several hospitals. He was being taken to Saifai on Monday, but died in the ambulance while being shifted.”
The teacher, identified as Ashwini Singh, agreed to pay the boy’s medical expenses, but only offered 40,000 rupees (approximately $491) in two installments.
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“During the course of our interactions, the teacher also misbehaved and abused us with caste-specific words,” the father claimed. “We then went to the police station and filed a report on September 24 against him.”
Singh was booked under IPC Sections 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Indian Express reported.
Protests have erupted following the incident, which have seen police vehicles set on fire.
Auraiya superintendent of police, Charu Nigam, said an autopsy was done by doctors in Etawah, and a report will soon be released.
“Three teams have been formed for the arrest of the teacher, who is absconding,” Nigam added.
The Dalit community, previously known as the “untouchables,” have been looked down upon in India’s caste system for hundreds of years.
Al Jazeera reported that caste bias-related crimes have been on the rise in India, where untouchability is “banned but remains rampant.”
“The family says the boy was beaten by his teacher a few weeks ago for making a spelling error. Now the family has called this a caste-based hate crime,” reporter Pavni Mittal said. “According to government data, five-caste-based hate crimes take place every hour on average in the country. The hatred is still so strong that it even extends to young children and ends up killing them.”