Security has been beefed up at the Ryan International School in Bhondsi, Gurugram, following the murder of a 7-year-old student. Police, on 8 September, arrested Ashok Kumar, a bus conductor employed with the school, in connection with the death of the Class 2 student.
On 9 September, a Gurugram court sent Kumar to three-day police remand.
The All-India Parents Association has demanded that the school be shut down. According to reports, the association has also demanded that the school pay the victim’s family monetary compensation to the tune of Rs 100 crore.
Strict Action Will be Taken, Promises Khattar
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that his government is ready to launch any kind of probe to investigate into the murder of the 7-year-old.
It is a sad incident, and I want to convey my sympathies to family. Strictest action will be taken against whoever is found guilty.Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana CM
Police to Ask for Speedy Trial
Addressing the media on 9 September, senior police and civil administration officials assured of action against the school as well as the accused.
Gurugram Police Commissioner Sandeep Khairwar confirmed the bus conductor’s involvement and said they are looking into the possible involvement of others.
We will be requesting for fast tracking the trial. We want the culprit to get the toughest sentence. Will try to file chargesheet in seven days. A committee has been formed to adjudge loopholes in security arrangement, reports of which were expected on 11 September.Sandeep Khairwar, Gurgaon Police Commissioner
Authorities also assured that a Special Public Prosecutor would be provided to ensure a speedy trial. A team of representatives from various organisations, including Women and Child Development Department, were checking if the school was following all guidelines. This team would prepare a report to check the school’s compliance.
Bar Association Takes a Stand
The Bar Association of Sohna district has decided that none of its lawyers will represent the accused in the murder case.
Ministers Vow Action
Prakash Javadekar, Union HRD Minister, said:
An unfortunate incident. It’s like warning to people and to schools. Justice will be served for sure.
Haryana education minister, Ram Bilas Sharma, was quoted as saying, “I am going to Gurugram tomorrow. The culprit won’t be spared. My sympathies are with the child’s parents.”
CBSE has also formed an inquiry team to look into the murder of the 7-year-old student. The school has been asked to send a report along with FIR filed in this case with in two days and “a fact finding committee has been set up to enquire into the matter in detail and to submit report at the earliest”, according to a CBSE statement,
Acting Principal Suspended
On 9 September, the victim’s father approached the Police Commissioner’s office, accompanied by a lawyer, to demand action against the management of Ryan International School.
Action against the school management is sure. The acting principal has been suspended.Durgesh Boken, Lawyer of victim’s family
The family will claim the victim’s body later today, the lawyer has said.
The Gurugram DCP confirmed that the acting principal, Neerja Batra, has been suspended. The security agency of the school has been fired. A special committee has been constituted to probe the case.
The Officer on special duty to the Haryana government told reporters that strict action will be taken if the appointed team of police officials finds that the school was to blame for the death.
Parents Protest Outside School
Parents have gathered outside the school premises in Bhondsi, as well as outside the police commissioner’s office, demanding action against the management and chairman of the school, News18 reported.
The child’s mother demanded to know why the school could not ensure her son’s safety, ANI reported.
My son did not even know the bus conductor as he never traveled in bus. We used to drop him and pick him... The school could not even ensure basic safety for my son, how will parents then send children to school?
Bus Conductor Ashok Kumar Confesses to Crime
Hours after the child’s body was found lying in a pool of blood in a washroom at the Bhondsi branch of the school, the police arrested Ashok Kumar, a 42-year-old bus conductor.
Police said Kumar confessed to the crime, and admitted that he had attempted to sexually abuse the child. Police said Kumar told them he managed to carry a knife into the school because he knew he would not be frisked by the guards at the gate, since he was a known face.
The police said he then went to the washroom, and then waited there, intending to commit sodomy on any student who walked in.
As soon as the boy entered the toilet, Kumar held him. But the boy resisted his attempts with full force and when the accused failed to sodomise him, he slit his throat and right ear.
The police claimed he later washed his hands and walked out of the washroom, leaving the knife behind. He also tried to help the teachers when the boy was being taken to the hospital.
"Ashok Kumar carried the boy with the others and took him to the car," the officer said.
‘My Child Was Murdered’
The victim’s father said the school authorities contacted him 15 minutes after he dropped his son off to the school. “I dropped my son to school at 7:55 am this morning. At 8:10 am, I got a call from the school saying, ‘please come to the hospital, your son has been injured,” Varun Chandra Thakur, the victim’s father said.
However, by the time Thakur reached the hospital, his son had been declared dead. Accusing the school administration of negligence, the father said:
They told me his health deteriorated suddenly. They did not take care of my son. He could have been saved if he had been taken to hospital in time... My child was murdered inside the school. The school authorities told me that his body was found inside the bathroom. I didn’t see it myself.
Thakur questioned the police on why no action had been taken against the school over the death of his son. Thakur said the 7-year-old was a happy child and did not complain about any fights in the school or otherwise.
He loved to ride his cycle; last evening, he was happily cycling. He didn’t complain of any sort of problem in the school.Varun Chandra Thakur, the victim’s father
After the victim’s body was found, the police questioned the school’s bus drivers and staff, following which they detained the drivers, conductors, a gardener and a school staff member.
The police registered a murder case and recorded the statements of the child's father and other family members. CCTV footage from the school was also been recovered.
Parents Protest Outside Commissioner’s Office
Scared and angry parents reached the school premises to take their children back home on Friday, 8 September, after the incident. They vandalised the school property and shattered glass cases kept in the school.
The victim’s parents, along with several other people, gathered outside the police commissioner’s office in Gurugram to protest the alleged murder.
Delhi Schools Allay Parents' Safety Concerns After Murder
The murder has triggered outrage among parents concerned about the safety of children on campuses, but schools in Delhi have said that it is a one-off case and should not be "generalised".
"Generalising the opinion that schools do not have enough safety measures in place would be unfair," said a member of the National Progressive Schools' Conference, an association of over 1,000 private schools in the national capital.
There are rules laid down already. We as human beings would not let any kid’s safety be comprised, but accidents like these should be taken as lessons to be extra careful.Pratigya Mehta, Greenfields Public School
Meanwhile, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recommended that a case of negligence be registered against the management of the school.
We have told the police that a case of negligence be registered against the school management as we have found that the school did not undertake police verification of teaching and non-teaching staffPriyank Kanoongo, Member RTE and Education, NCPCR.
No CCTV Where Alleged Murder Took Place
While CCTV footage from the school had been recovered by the police, parents have alleged that at past parent-teacher meetings in the school, the issue of CCTV cameras not working was brought up multiple times.
Police had also said that there was no CCTV camera near the washroom where the alleged murder took place. But they confirmed that other CCTV cameras were working.
Regarding the issue, K Krishnan of NCPCR had said:
We are taking it seriously. The team is already in school to find what happened and ensure it never recurs.K Krishan, NCPCR
(This story has been updated.)
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)