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Ryan school murder: SC seeks reply from Centre, Haryana govt; two officials held

A eight-year-old boy was found with his throat slit outside a toilet at Ryan International School in Gurgaon.

gurgaon Updated: Sep 11, 2017 23:36 IST
Bhadra Sinha and Leena Dhankhar
Bhadra Sinha and Leena Dhankhar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Gurgaon
Ryan International School,Ryan International School murder,Gurgaon school
Police personnel at Ryan International School in Bhondsi, Gurgaon.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday sought replies from the Centre and Haryana government on a petition filed by a father seeking a CBI probe into the murder of his eight-year-old son at Ryan International School in Gurgaon.

The court order came a day after police arrested two top Ryan officials and accused school authorities of tampering with evidence by wiping bloodstains from floors and walls.

A 42-year-old school bus conductor was arrested after publicly confessing to killing the Class 2 boy, who he had allegedly tried to abuse sexually. The child was found with his throat slit outside the school’s toilet on September 8.

The boy’s father asked for comprehensive guidelines for all schools to prevent such crimes. He also sought a national tribunal to look into such cases across the country.

“The petition relates to … command the authorities of the school management and the promoters to take steps so that safety and security is sustained and no one is affected,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

Besides the government, the CBI, Haryana police and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) were asked to submit their stand in three weeks.

The court took up the case as an “urgent matter” after the visibly shaken and traumatised father requested for an early hearing.

He wants a CBI investigation, saying police failed to unearth the conspiracy behind the “cold-blooded murder”. The parents think there is more to the murder.

“It is not possible that my son was killed within 10 minutes of entering the school without any motive,” the father said on Sunday.

They think their son was killed because he must have seen some dirty secret in the school.

“The murder was a conspiracy and more people were involved,” his lawyer Sushil Tekriwal said.

The father accused the school management of lax security on the campus, a fact corroborated by a government-appointed inquiry committee.

The panel found that around 40 adult staff, including drivers and conductors, shared toilets with students. Washroom windows were broken and there were no guards.

The Ryan management is also accused of not conducting a background check of the bus conductor, who worked for a private agency contracted by the school to provide non-teaching staff.

Police found that the bus conductor, a native of Ghamroj village near Gurgaon, was sacked by another school eight months ago for his “sexually predatory behaviour”.

“The school management is responsible for negligence in providing safety and security to the students,” the boy’s father said.

His petition underscores growing concern across the country over a spurt in students facing sexual violence in schools, especially by non-teaching staff.

The father said a committee headed by a former top court judge should be appointed to suggest safety guidelines for schools.

His plea seeks instant revocation of licences to schools that “either fail to adhere to the requisite criteria”.

Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar suggested that drivers, conductors and non-teaching staff in schools should be women to prevent sexual assaults on children.

“There should be more and more woman employees in schools and school buses can also have woman drivers so that there is more safety for students. We can have woman security guards too,” he said.

According to Gurgaon police, Ryan group’s regional head Francis Thomas and human resource chief Jayesh Thomas were arrested and charged with section 75 of the juvenile justice act. This section deals with cruelty and crime against children in a person’s care.

Francis faced charges before when a student of Ryan International School in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj drowned in a water tank on the campus in January last year.

The CEO of Ryan International, Ryan Pinto and parents Grace and Augustine Pinto, applied for anticipatory bail in the Bombay high court on Monday.

The district administration ordered the Ryan management to keep its schools in Gurgaon closed on Monday and Tuesday. Security was beefed up after angry parents staged a protest on Sunday and police lathi-charged the crowd.

First Published: Sep 11, 2017 14:15 IST