Ryan Murder: CBI Charge 16-Year-Old Student, Gurugram Cops Evasive

The 16-year-old Ryan School student has been arrested and charged with murder under the Juvenile Justice Act.

Updated
India
5 min read
Photograph of eight-year-old Pradyumn Thakur.
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) claims to have cracked the murder mystery of 7-year-old Pradyumn Thakur of Ryan International School. The agency apprehended a Class XI minor student of the same school on Tuesday night at 11:30 pm under sections of murder of the Juvenile Justice Act.

According to the CBI, the 16-year-old’s motive for the murder has been identified as a need to postpone his exams and an impending parent-teacher meeting as he was academically weak.

On Wednesday, the CBI produced the juvenile before the Juvenile Justice Board in Gurugram and secured three-day CBI remand.

The latest developments in the probe gave a new twist to the case and also raised questions around Gurugram Police’s initial investigation.

Evading the questions posed by The Quint, Gurugram’s Commissioner of Police, Sandeep Khirwar said:

We conducted the initial investigation in the Ryan Murder Case. In two weeks, the matter was transferred to the CBI. We never concluded the investigation so I cannot comment on the CBI’s investigation.

The Gurugram Police had arrested the bus conductor, Ashok Kumar, of the Ryan International School, and claimed that he tried to sexually assault the 7-year-old before killing him.

According to the CBI, so far they have not found any evidence of the conductor’s involvement in the case.

Here’s How the CBI Claimed to Crack the Case

According to the CBI, they have sufficient and strong evidence against the juvenile prime accused.

Evidence

CCTV footage is the main evidence that helped the CBI identify the 16-year-old suspect, said the agency. Apart from the footage, the CBI questioned several students of the school, which helped the agency in zero in on the prime accused. Other substantive scientific evidence claimed by the CBI are forensics analysis and mobile phone records.

But now the question remains, if the CCTV footage was such an important piece of evidence, and it had been in Gurugram Police’s custody from Day 1 of the investigation, why couldn’t the Gurugram Police have cracked the case? Why wasn’t the 16-year-old questioned if he was visible in the footage, and why was the blame pinned on the bus conductor instead?

However, the CBI said that the conductor, who was the earlier suspect in the case, has not been cleared just yet, and his role in the case is yet to be ascertained.

The CBI says it has found that Pradyumn was not the intended target.

Motive

Since the Juvenile suspect was academically weak, he wanted to postpone the exams and the Parent-Teachers Meeting, which were scheduled to be held around the days when Pradyumn was murdered, said the CBI.

We have confirmed from the teachers of the school that the juvenile was weak in studies. He confessed to the CBI, saying that he knew that if such an incident occurred inside the school, everything would be postponed. 
Abhishek Dayal, Spokespeson, CBI

As of now, the agency is not ruling out the involvement of more suspects in the case. Apparently, the CCTV footage shows more than one senior student coming out of the toilet, though the CBI is very tight-lipped about the possible involvement of the other suspects.

Murder Weapon

The murder weapon used – an eight-inch knife – was recovered from the commode after the incident, and is currently in CBI’s possession. Was the murder planned?

We are investigating where the juvenile got a hold of a knife. It is clear the juvenile planned killing someone, since he carried a knife inside the toilet, but maybe Pradyumn wasn’t his target. It appears that he randomly picked him. 
Senior Official, CBI

As The Quint reported earlier, the doctor who conducted the autopsy of Pradyumn’s body had said that Pradyumn was held from behind before his throat was slit twice with a knife.

As of now, the CBI has not yet confirmed whether the juvenile’s fingerprints match the fingerprints present on the murder weapon.

Accused Teen’s Father Refutes Claims

Speaking to ANI, the arrested student’s father claims his son is not guilty and had only reported the crime to the gardener and the teachers.

My son wasn’t with Pradyumn when he was murdered. He was in class, giving exams. 
Accused Teen’s Father

We Trust CBI’s Investigation: Pradyumn’s Family

Pradyumn’s parents were called to the CBI HQ on Wednesday morning where they were briefed about the latest developments in the case.

Since the beginning, we weren’t convinced of the Gurugram Police’s investigation. The CBI has arrested this boy based on some evidence. We trust CBI’s investigation,
Sushma Thakur, Pradyumn’s Mother

The family is not ruling out the school management’s involvement in hushing up the juvenile’s involvement in the murder along with Gurugram Police.

The motive given by the CBI could be the probable reason for committing this crime, as the child had been studying in the school for long and was aware of how it functions. We want the CBI to investigate the school management’s role.
Barun Thakur, Praduymn’s Father

Barun Thakur’s lawyer, Sushil Tekriwal, had this to say:

CBI should also book those who were part of the larger conspiracy, including the juvenile. There’s a possibility that the school management was also part of this conspiracy. 
Sushil Tekriwal, Thakur’s Lawyer

Can He Be Tried As An Adult?

We will appeal to the Juvenile Justice Board to try the 16-year-old as an adult. 
Sushil Tekriwale, Lawyer for Pradyumn’s Family

The new Juvenile Justice Act, enacted in 2015, lowered the age at which minors could be prosecuted as adults from 18 to 16.

Under the new Juvenile Justice Act, the Juvenile Justice Boards have the power to decide - based on a preliminary assessment report - whether the accused should be tried in an adult court or not.

If he is tried as a juvenile, his sentence for the crime would be a maximum of three years in a juvenile reform facility. If he is tried as an adult, however, his sentence could range from 14 years to life imprisonment in a regular jail with hardened criminals, to even hanging.

Relief for Bus Conductor’s Family



Accused Ashok Kumar being escorted by police on 9 September.
Accused Ashok Kumar being escorted by police on 9 September.
(Photo: PTI/Altered by Rahul Gupta/The Quint)

Meanwhile, family of the implicated bus conductor, Ashok Kumar, earlier accused in the case, said that they were relieved to know the latest developments, even though Kumar hasn’t been given a clean chit.

Kumar’s family alleged that he was forced to confess to the crime by the Gurugram Police and was even beaten up and heavily sedated while in custody. The family also demanded action against Gurugram Police.

The arrest of the Class XI student in the Ryan murder case reveals the differing accounts laid down by the CBI and the police in their respective investigations.

The CBI’s investigation is still on but it certainly raises several questions about the investigation carried out by our State Police.

There was No Pressure on Police: Haryana DGP

Haryana DGP BS Sandhu said there was no pressure on the police team probing the matter before it was handed over to the CBI.

Sandhu denied that there was any pressure on the police to solve the case or that they proceeded in haste. "The government had recommended handing over the inquiry to the CBI," DGP Sandhu told reporters in Panchkula.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also defended the state police claiming that its investigations were not complete when the probe was handed over to the CBI.

When a reporter questioned that the Haryana Police had after the arrest of school bus conductor Ashok Kumar claimed to have solved the case, the DGP said:

Koi baat nahin, chalta hai (It does not matter, it happens).

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