Muzaffarnagar: FIR against fact-checker Mohammed Zubair for 'disclosing the identity' of slapgate victim

Zubair told Scroll on Monday that he was being targeted. He said several others had shared the video, but only he was named in the FIR. The police haven’t contacted him yet

Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News
Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News

NH Digital

The Uttar Pradesh Police have filed an FIR against Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair for social media posts allegedly revealing the identity of a seven-year-old Muslim boy who was slapped by his classmates at a Muzaffarnagar school on the instruction of their teacher.

The Muzaffarnagar Police on Monday registered a case under Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act on a complaint filed by a person named Vishnudutt. 

According to the law, if a person discloses the identity of a child victim or a witness of a crime, it is punishable under law. Those held guilty could be sentenced to six months in jail or be asked to pay a fine of upto Rs 2 lakh.

On Friday, 25 August, when the video of the teacher asking students to slap a minor Muslim boy began to be shared on social media, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had warned against sharing the video of the Class 2 student and revealing his identity.

NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo urged people to "to not become part of the crime by revealing identity of the children”.

Zubair told Scroll on Monday that he was being targeted. He reportedly said there were several others who had shared the video, but only he was named in the FIR. The police haven’t contacted him yet.

The incident took place at Neha Public School in Muzaffarnagar's Mansurpur twon. The school is run by Tripta Tyagi, the teacher seen in the video asking the boy’s classmates to hit him.

In the video, Tyagi asks a boy to hit the Muslim student on his back, saying: “Start hitting him on the waist... His face is turning red, hit him on the waist everyone.” Loud slaps are heard as the students follow their teacher's instruction. "Why don't you hit harder? Whose turn is it?" Tyagi can be heard instigating the children.

Tyagi has been booked under Sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code. However, the case against her has been registered under non-cognisable charges. This means that the police cannot arrest her without a warrant. The police also need permission from a court to start an investigation.

She has, however, dismissed controversy over a widely-circulated video of the assault on the Muslim boy, terming it a "minor issue... unnecessarily turned into a big issue" and denied any communal angle.

The boy was humiliated and forced to stand for hours, his father told police."The teacher made the students beat my child again and again. My son was tortured for an hour or two. He is scared," the father said after the incident, which took place on Thursday (August 24) last week. The boy was taken to Meerut for a medical check-up and is now better, his father added.

Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate Aravind Mallappa Bangari said the FIR against Tyagi was registered after the parents overcame their reluctance. The father had said he would not press charges against the school, which has been shut, but also that his son would not go the school.

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