Allegedly, a Teacher killed a Dalit Student Over a Spelling Mistake

Police in India are searching for a teacher accused of beating a Dalit student to death over a spelling mistake, officers said amid violent protests triggered by the incident.

Nikhil Dohre was struck with a rod and kicked until he fell unconscious by his high school teacher earlier this month after misspelling the word “social” in an exam, according to a police complaint by his father.

The culprit has left the region, and the 15-year-old died from his injuries on Monday at a hospital in northern Uttar Pradesh. “He is on the run, but we will arrest him soon,” police officer Mahendra Pratap Singh told the AFP news agency.

The Dalit population historically referred to as the “untouchables,” occupies the lowest caste in India and has long been the target of bigotry and discrimination.

According to Pavni Mittal of Al Jazeera, who was reporting from New Delhi, violent protests erupted in the Auraiya district, the scene of the attack, calling for the teacher’s arrest before the boy’s body was cremated.

“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,” she said.

Hundreds of people took to the streets on Monday and torched a police vehicle. About a dozen protesters had been arrested, police officer Singh said.

“We used force to quell the mob and the situation soon came under control,” Superintendent of Police Charu Nigam told reporters.

Mittal said there is growing anger against casteism and caste-based violence in India, where untouchability is “banned but remains rampant”.

“According to government data, five-caste-based hate crimes take place every hour on average in the country,” she said.

Riya Singh, the co-founder of the Dalit Women Fight organization, told Al Jazeera the incident is “a reflection of the entrenched caste hatred that upper or dominant caste people have against Dalits”.
“The hatred is still so strong that it even extends to young children and ends up killing them,” she said.

Singh said the country should accept that there is caste bias and that people are using crime and violence to justify their caste bias. “It is only with this acknowledgment that we can move ahead,” she said.


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