Gurgaon School Murder: Falsely Accused in 2017, Ashok Kumar Stays Badly Scarred
Ashok was falsely accused of murdering a student in 2017. 4 years on, life is still a struggle for him & his family.
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Four years ago, in September 2017, Ashok Kumar was falsely accused of murdering a seven-year-old student, Pradyuman Thakur, and attempting to sexually assault him.
Ashok was then a bus conductor at Ryan International School, and was accused of slitting the seven-year-old's throat outside the school washroom and leaving him to die in a pool of blood, according to the Gurugram police.
Ashok was acquitted in 2018 after the case was taken over by the CBI and a 16-year-old student from the same school was charged with the murder.
“It has been 4 years. If I was at fault, they would’ve hanged me to death. But the real accused is still alive. Everyone wanted to kill a poor man.”Ashok Kumar
It has been four years since the false accusation but life has been an ongoing struggle for Ashok and his family, who are barely able to manage two square meals a day.
Once a happy family, Ashok's family of five hasn't seen a celebration in years.
“Only I can imagine what I lived through. I would’ve gone crazy had I lived there (police custody) for even a month longer. I had stopped blinking, my mind was out of my control. I would only keep thinking of my kids".Ashok Kumar
He is now, not capable of sustained physical labour and does not have any other skills, leaving him partially unemployable.
Ashok is able to work for only ten odd days in a month. He mostly works at a construction site, earning barely Rs 3,000-5,000 in a month.
“You can see the condition of this house. Chutney, roti, some days daal, once in a while… that’s all. How do I buy milk for my children? How will I pay for it?"Mamta Devi, Ashok's wife.
The severe financial crunch means no proper food, not enough money for medical needs or for quality education for the children.
Ashok has two children, Keshav (11) and Rohan (13), both of whom used to study at a private school. The school refused to teach them or relieve them because Ashok failed to pay their school fees. In the absence of a Transfer Certificate from the school, the kids could not be admitted even to a government school for almost two years.
“We went to Vivek Bharti, a private school. Now we go to the government school because we have no money,” says Ashok's younger son, Keshav.
Rohan, Ashok's elder son, fractured his elbow a few months back and was not taken to a doctor. He now has an upturned elbow and complains of continuous pain, but Ashok says there is not enough money for a doctor.
But severe financial strain is not Ashok's only problem. The newest addition to his list of troubles is an eviction notice the family recently received.
Ashok's house in Ghamroj, Haryana, has leaking roofs and unhinged doors. And yet it is the only place Ashok and his family have for shelter, which they may be forced to vacate now.
"They have sent an eviction notice saying the house falls in Aravali region. They will smash it down. We struggled to construct this house," says Mamta. "This is our biggest concern now, where will we go? Two chapatis a day are already a struggle. We have no money for rent.”
“I feel no anger, only the powerful have the right to feel angry. I feel nothing. I am alive till I am. I don’t mind even if I have to beg to feed my children.”Ashok Kumar
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