The drowning of a Ryan International School student may have made ripples in the Capital but a few kilometers away, a similar death of another boy last week has hardly generated any attention, possibly because of his impoverished background.
Ankit Singh, 4, allegedly drowned in a septic tank inside a municipal school in outer Delhi’s Kapashera on January 27, three days before six-year-old Devansh Kakrora was found dead in a water tank at the Vasant Kunj school.
But while Devansh’s death made headlines with top political leaders visiting his family and the Delhi government recommending a CBI probe, Ankit’s poor parents are left wondering if their son’s death will ever be investigated.
“Why will anybody care about a poor man’s son?” his father Rajesh Kumar Singh asked in frustration, sitting in their small one-room house. He works as a tailor in an export firm in Gurgaon, earning Rs 8,000 a month.
The only memory left of Ankit, a Class I student, is his school identity card that he forgot to carry that day. His 25-year-old mother, Poonam Singh, has spent the past week staring at the card and crying.
Rajesh said the media forgot about Ankit’s death in 24 hours and no one from the government came to visit. The family came to know about a Rs 2 lakh compensation by the south Delhi municipality corporation through the newspapers.
“We were called by the SDM and told an investigation is on. They never heard what we had to say. No one has come to us or told us anything about the compensation,” Rajesh said. The school’s principal has been suspended.
Poonam blamed the school authorities for the delay in taking Ankit to hospital and alleged they tried to stop her from seeing her son. The trauma of Ankit’s death has separated her from even her older son, Rohit.
“After the incident, Rohit wouldn’t stop crying. So we took him to our village in Bihar and left him there. He didn’t want to come back,” said Poonam.
Rajesh described Ankit as a bright student, who would have made it big. “He never wanted to miss school even when he was sick or there was heavy rain outside.”
Ankit’s friends said he stood third in class last year. “He was very nice but more important, he was not scared of anything,” said Ashish, who lives in the same colony.
But in the absence of money or political power, the family is almost certain those responsible for their son’s death will escape. “Last time, even when the SDM called us to court, they did not listen to us. They mostly heard what the school had to say,” said Rajesh.
A day after the death, the colony residents protested but police allegedly lathicharged them, injuring some of them. “Poor people are remembered only when the government wants votes. At times, I feel frustrated. I think, had I a little more money or been a little educated, I could have done something,” said Poonam.