“I Keep Seeing Pradyumn’s Face”: His Classmates Are Still in Shock

“I Keep Seeing Pradyumn’s Face”: His Classmates Are Still in Shock

India

Families of students in Gurugram’s Ryan International School have been dealing with the aftermath of seven-year-old Pradyumn’s murder. Lingering trauma, tension, and fear have gripped parents, who are trying to help their kids cope while they worry for their safety.

The Quint spoke to the parents of a few of Pradyumn’s classmates to see how they are faring.

Unsurprisingly, *Dhruv’s father says his son was traumatised the day Pradyumn was found murdered in the school on 8 September. He said his son often asks about Pradyumn.

Two days ago my son told me that while taking shower, he saw Pradyumn’s face. 
Dhruv’s Father

Pradyumn was among the four toppers of the class including Dhruv and two more children, his father says, and Dhruv would often enjoy friendly competition with Pradyumn, comparing marks and performance at school.

On the day the 7-year-old was found dead, Dhruv was made to clean the boy’s blood-stained bottle.

My son told me that a school maid ordered him to clean blood from Pradyumn’s water bottle. He took it to another toilet (not the crime scene) and washed it with tap water. 
Dhruv’s Father

The incident has impacted Dhruv so much that he refuses to go anywhere near the toilet where Pradyumn’s body was found.

My son said he wants to carry two water bottles if at all he is sent to Ryan International School again, because he doesn’t want to have to go and refill it at the cooler. He’s also adamant that he’ll not enter that toilet again.
Dhruv’s Father

“My Daughter Panicked When She Saw His Blood-Stained Bag”

According to the police, it is likely that the toilet will be kept locked until the case is closed as it is a crime scene, but Pradyumn’s classmates are still uneasy.

*Shriti’s father tells The Quint how his daughter is dealing with the murder.

My daughter was asked by a school maid to pull out a diary from Pradyumn’s blood-stained bag. While pulling out the diary, she got blood on her hand. She panicked. She says she can’t forget the sight of it.
Shriti’s Father

Despite being panicked, his daughter quickly complied and pulled out the diary because the school needed Pradyumn’s father’s number from it, he says.

My daughter asked me, “Pradyumn was my friend, will he never come back?” I have no answer for her, I can only try to comfort her and help her through this trauma.
Shriti’s Father

“Class 2 Children Didn’t Have Identity Cards”

Shriti’s father pointed out several security lapses at the school that he regrets overlooking all these years. He said security guards at the gate weren’t strict enough, gaining access to the classes was easy, and the school’s canteen was located at an isolated spot in the school.

Till date, the school has not issued ID cards to Class 2 students. That’s why my daughter was asked to pull out Pradyumn’s diary to find his father’s phone number.
Shriti’s Father

A few parents, including Dhruv’s, have now decided to take the initiative in safeguarding their children while they are still at the school.

We have decided that after school re-opens, parents will take turns to be present inside the class from morning till classes finish. We can’t trust the school anymore. 
Dhruv’s Father

“My Son Doesn’t Go to the Playground Alone Anymore”

*Neeraj was a close friend of Pradyumn. They often shared their lunch at school. On 8 September, Neeraj was waiting for Pradyumn inside the classroom. But instead of Pradyumn, his blood-stained bag was brought in. Neeraj was quick was to recognise his friend’s bag.

What was the need to bring the blood-stained bag inside the classroom? My son was horrified and is unable to forget it. When he asked teachers about Pradyumn, they said he was just slightly injured and had been taken to the medical room. 
Neeraj’s Mother

Neeraj’s mother complained that the Principal of Ryan International school was not at all accessible to parents, because of which their earlier concerns about the security of the school had gone unaddressed.

Neeraj was shocked when he saw on TV that Pradyumn had been murdered, his mother said. Since then, he has grown quiet and withdrawn.

My son wants me around him all the time. He sometimes cries and insists on knowing more about Pradyumn’s murder.
Neeraj’s Mother

“I Will Not Keep My Son At Ryan School Even if It Means Wasting a Year”

Though some parents are waiting for the investigation to progress further before deciding whether it’s okay to keep their children at the school, others are determined to shift their kids to different schools at any cost.

We paid fees which are beyond our financial capacity with the hope that our children would get the best education. Although we don’t want to keep our children in Ryan school, now we can’t even afford to get them admitted somewhere else. We will send our children to school only when we are convinced that they are safe.
Dhruv’s Father
My child will sit at home till we find him another school. I cannot send my child to Ryan school. Earlier, my child used to be happy to go school, but not anymore.
Neeraj’s Mother

The Gurugram Police have arrested three people in this murder case – the school conductor, the HR head and Regional Head of the school. Not just Pradyumn’s father but many parents of the school are not convinced the police investigation is proceeding fairly, which is adding to their stress.

On Wednesday, the police questioned all staff of the school to record their statements to determine what they were doing and where they were on that day.

*Names changed to protect identities.

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