Two top officials of Ryan International School Group were arrested and the principal detained for questioning in connection with the murder of a 7-year-old class 2 student, the police said on Monday, September 11.
What has happened so far
Friday, September 8:The body of a 7-year-old student was found inside the toilet of Ryan International School, Gurgaon, less than an hour after his father had dropped him off. He lay in a pool of his blood with his throat slit.
The police seemed to have cracked the case hours after the gruesome murder. According to media reports, the child had gone to the washroom when Ashok Kumar, a 42-year-old bus conductor associated with the school, tried to sexually assault him. When the boy tried to resist and raise an alarm, Kumar allegedly slit his throat and escaped from the scene.
He confessed to the crime after being grilled by a team, the police said, adding that Kumar managed to carry a knife into the school premises as he was a known face and the guards didn’t inspect him. He went to the washroom intending to commit sodomy on any child who walked it.
The police also claimed that he later washed his hands and walked out of the toilet, leaving the knife behind. He tried to help the teachers too when the boy was found and was being taken to the hospital.
The minor’s father, Varun Thakur, accused the school administration of negligence and said that he was not told how critical his child’s condition was.
The incident sparked protests by parents, two of whom were arrested for vandalising school property.
After continued protests, the principal, Neeraja Bhatra was suspended on Friday morning, reports said.
Saturday, September 9: Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar sought a report from the school in connection with the murder. He said that a speedy trial will be undertaken within 7 days after the family of the deceased demanded a CBI probe into the murder.
Locals held candle light march at the premises of Ryan International.
The child’s uncle appealed, “We don’t believe it is a case of sexual assault and this school is known for previous cases of negligence. Let us at least visit the location and look for ourselves.” Meanwhile, the All India Parents Association slapped a Rs 100 crore fine against Ryan International and have demanded a shutdown.
The child’s parents also echo the same views while Kumar’s wife say he’s being framed.
Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar said that a team has been formed to look into the matter and action will be taken against the guilty. Meanwhile, the CBSE has asked for a report from all affiliate schools of Ryan International.
The school released a statement on the murder on Saturday – “Following the tragic incident at our school yesterday, Ryan International authorities have taken up the review of security measures at the school seriously. All necessary improvements and measures are being audited and reinforced with the help of experts. We are also seeking advice from the Police department to guide us in this regard. While we are all in great shock and grief at the loss of life of our beloved student, we are taking these steps simultaneously to ensure vigorous safety measures in place for all our students and staff. We are closely working with the investigating authorities so that we could be guided further with their expertise.”
After the accused was sent to a 3-day police custody, his family maintained that the conductor was being framed and that they were not allowed to meet the family of the boy. Three students and the gardener are being considered the main witnesses in the murder case.
Meanwhile, members of the Bar Association of Sohna (South Gurgaon) decided to not represent Kumar in court.
The Gurgaon Bar Association also refused to appear on behalf of Kumar.
“The conductor’s role in the case is clear, we will investigate if there are others and if so then they too will be prosecuted. The crime scene and sequence of events will be recreated,” said Gurgaon Police Commissioner, Sandeep Khirwar, reported News18.
Sunday, September 10: Protests by parents continue as they set ablaze a liquor shop claiming it was within 100 metres of the school.
The Gurgaon police lathicharged on the agitated parents outside the school premises.
Around 10 reporters and photographers of various media houses were injured during the Lathicharge, two of them were sent to the hospital, reported Hindustan Times.
Police commissioner Khirwar on Sunday said that Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act has been invoked in the murder case of the 7-year-old.
[Section 75 of JJ Act: Punishment for cruelty to child: Whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a child, assaults, abandons, abuses, exposes or wilfully neglects the child or causes or procures the child to be assaulted, abandoned, abused, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such child unnecessary mental or physical suffering, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine of one lakh rupees or with both.]
Father of the boy alleged that the murder was planned as his son was killed within a span of 10 minutes. He called for a detailed investigation, claiming that the current probe has too many loopholes.
The Supreme Court on Sunday issued a notice to Centre, Haryana and all states on a petition filed by the father of the child, seeking better safety and security measures in schools across India.
The notice seeking a reply was issued by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
The father is dissatisfied by the current probe and suspects some past connection which led to the murder of his boy. The bus conductor had no reason to murder his son, he said.
“If the conductor has no criminal history then how did he plan the murder? What instigated him to kill my son? Why did he take a knife with him only on that day?” he questioned.
Monday, September 11: The parents decided to not send their children to school on Monday.
Two officials of the Ryan International school were arrested.
Station House Officer (SHO) of the Sadar Police Station was suspended with immediate effect, said the Gurgaon police commissioner.
CEO of Ryan International, Ryan Pinto was questioned by the police. He filed an anticipatory bail application in Bombay High Court. The hearing is likely to be held today.
Tuesday, September 12: The schools remain shut today as well.
A report by a 3-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) said that many of the cameras installed in the school campus were not working. The team also found that the premises had no separate toilets for bus conductors and drivers, which meant that they were using the same toilets as the students. The school had also hired staff without proper probe into their background and police verification.
Probe has added to the mystery surrounding the murder as police found that the toilet where the toilet where the 7-year-old was killed had three windows with no grills. The police are now investigating that someone else might have killed him and used one of the windows to escape.
The cops also told the Sohna Court that the school authorities tampered with the evidence at the crime spot by wiping off blood from floor and walls.
There is an ongoing petition to make it mandatory for every school to conduct periodic audits to check basic security measures in every school in India.
The murder of the 7-year-old child and the investigation that followed points to two facts: one, the safety and security of schools in our country are seriously flawed. Two, the ongoing probe hints at graft considering the multiple loopholes. A child was murdered within the premises of a posh private school but the CCTV cameras were non-functioning. A case which has the attention of the entire nation seems to be going haywire with new revelations by the police everyday.
The Logical Indian community urges the HRD Ministry and the state government to speed the probe and bring to justice the ones responsible for taking the life of an innocent child.