Hundreds of parents today staged a protest outside the Ryan International School here for a CBI probe into the murder of a 7-year-old student, a demand which the Haryana government was inclined to accept as a government committee reported “security loopholes” in the school. The state government directed the Gurgaon Police to book the owner of Ryan International School Albert Pinto under section 75 Juvenile Justice (care and punishment act) Act 15 for punishment for cruelty to child meted out by the custodian in the charge sheet to be submitted in the court within 7 days.
Education Minister Rambilas Sharma also said that the school has been ordered to remain closed tomorrow to “maintain peace and harmony” near it.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar asserted that there will be no leniency and the school management will be held accountable.
Ryan International School, meanwhile, issued a statement tonight, saying it is “cooperating to our fullest” with the police investigations and hoped that the guilty would be given the severest punishment as per the law. Insisting that well being and safety of students is the school’s priority, CEO of Ryan International Schools Group Ryan Pinto said, “We will not succumb to all the various false allegations being made nor will we fuel the various controversies being spread. we should not unjustly be blamed or branded as the perpetrators.” Earlier in the day, the angry parents protested outside the school premises and it turned violent, with a liquor shop, situated just 50 metres from the school, being set ablaze.
Some of the demonstrators threw liquor bottles inside school premises to vent their ire against the school management, police said. The protestors alleged that school drivers and conductors often consume alcohol from the liquor shop in their free time. The protestors were demanding that the school be shut until a CBI probe is ordered into the horrifying incident in which the Class 2 boy Praduman Thakur was found with his throat slit in a school washroom on Friday last. The murder, in connection with which a bus conductor has been arrested, has triggered a major outrage. Police used batons to dispers the protestors, injuring 50 people, including 9 journalists. They included PTI photojournalist Yogesh. Cameras and vehicles of media persons were also damaged.
Khattar promised action against the erring police personnel, while describing as “unfortunate” the injuries inflicted upon the media persons. “The Gurgaon Police had to use mild lathicharge to disperse the agitators. The police detained over 20 protestors found agitating outside the school,” said Ravinder Kumar, PRO of Gurgaon Police. Gurgaon Police Commissioner Sandeep Khirwar denied the charges of mediapersons being targeted by the cops. “As per my knowledge, a fair warning was given to clear the place and nobody was targeted. However, if any mediaperson has been injured, then I express my regret and we will analyse the entire episode. But there was no intention to target anyone,” Khirwar said.
“On behalf of police authorities, I want to request the district administration that the mediapersons should be given best medical treatment,” he said.
Gurgaon Police has arrested school bus conductor Ashok Kumar in connection with the murder. According to police, Kumar was inside the toilet, waiting for any student to come inside with the motive of alleged sexual assault. The deceased was the first student who entered the toilet, the police said. Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma today said the charge sheet in the case will be ready within a week as he police were speedily conducting the probe. He, however, added that if the parents of the child insist on a probe by the CBI or any other agency, the government will accede to their demand. Sharma said the government has fixed a seven-day deadline in the case where the accused is booked under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (for murder).
“We have directed the Gurgaon Police to book the owner of Ryan International School, Albert Pinto, under section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Punishment) Act, 2015, for cruelty to a child meted out by the custodian in the charge sheet to be submitted in the court within 7 days,” he told reporters here. “This is the minimum time in such cases,” he said. “However, if the child’s parents still feel they are not satisfied, then as per their wish, we can get the case investigated by any agency including the CBI,” he added. The minister said the three-member fact-finding team set up by the government has found security loopholes inside school.
“Some loopholes in the security are visible in the case and the toilet window was also found broken from inside,” he told PTI tonight. The committee, which includes District Education Officer, will submit its detailed report tomorrow to Gurgaon Police and Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, Sharma said. He said that from now on, it will be the duty and responsiblity of each and every school in Haryana to take and drop every students from school to home. “I will give further direction in this regard to schools tomorrow,” he said. “There are many loopholes for which school management is held responsible for this negligence in connection with minor Pradhuman Thakur murder case in school premises,” Sharma said.
He said committee found that there is no perfect school boundary wall of the school. “One can easily enter and go from the school. There are no separate toilets and washrooms for the staff of 40 bus drivers and conductors in the school. They use students’ toilets,” the minister said. “The windows and grills of students toilet in which Pradhuman was killed was found broken. No frisking and security checking system was found in the school. No CCTV cameras were installed perfectly covering each and every corner inside school,” Sharma added. He said the liquor shop which was opened near the Ryan International School will be removed. “All the liquor shops which comes under the radius of 400 meters under the schools in Haryana, will be shifted,” the minister said.
He assured parents that the guilty would be brought to justice swiftly. “Police will file a charge sheet in the fast-track court within a week. If parents of the murdered student are not satisfied with the police investigation, the state government will be ready to conduct a probe through any agency, including the CBI,” Sharma said. “We accept negligence on part of the Ryan International School but the school cannot be derecognised as the future of 1200 students is at stake,” Sharma said. Sharma also made it clear that the school management has to take responsibility for the safety and security of the children. “We are issuing directives in this regard to all schools including private ones,” he said.
“We held a meeting today in which the demand to derecognise the school came up, but we also had to take into account the fact that 1,200 students are studying there. The parents of the students studying in this school were against this step and, therefore, we felt taking such a step will not be right,” he said. “However, for any kind of lapse, by the management or the owner, we have initiated action,” he said. “The murder accused has already been arrested. Now, within a week, the police after collecting all necessary evidence will submit a charge sheet in court. However, still if the parents are not satisfied, then the Haryana government is ready to get the matter probed by any agency. “We have full sympathy with the parents of the child. If there is any issue of providing financial help, the Haryana government will be willing to help,” he said