From missing window grills to owners' shady deals; Gurugram murder mystery deepens

K Vidhya
How safe a re kids in school

With the latest revelations on the missing grills of the washroom windows and the dubious record of the owners of the school, the mystery over the Gurugram student murder case is deepening. 

The investigators found the other day that the window grills of the washroom, where the seven-year-old boy was found dead in a pool of blood in Ryan International School in Gurugram, were missing.  Praduman, the class-II student was allegedly killed by a conductor of the school bus in a sexual assault attempt.  The missing grills have cast doubts on the version given by the police. 

Earlier, the parents the public had aired serious doubts about the investigation. They also demanded a CBI probe into the incident. The latest revelations have raised several questions on the incident.

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Meanwhile, Varun Thakur,  father of  the victim, appeared before the Supreme Court, seeking CBI investigation in the case.    

Mystery deepens

While probing the student's death, police have found out that three windows of the toilet, where the dead body of Praduman was found, had no grills, India Today reported. Police are now investigating whether the crime was committed by someone else who then used the window to escape.

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A three member team formed by Gurugram civil administration looked into the security lapses in the school. The team found that the security arrangements were seriously compromised at the school. Besides the broken windows in the washrooms, it saw ill-equipped fire extinguishers, low quality CCTV cameras and common toilets for staffers and students.

Owners' dubious record

Reports say that Grace and Augustine Pinto, the owners of Ryan International, had allegedly involved in money laundering. They made a whopping Rs 30 crore profit by investing just Rs 50 lakh in a company that as not performing well. It is unknown whether the owners are guilty of security lapse in the school.

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The Pintos invited public scrutiny after the murder of the student. The parents have demanded action against the school management for the security lapse. But the charge was resolutely denied by the management.   

The Pintos used Kamalakshi Limited, a Mumbai-based Finance company, to allegedly launder Rs 32 crore, India Today said, quoting a SEBI report. This company was later banned from stock market for manipulating prices.

Angry parents stay put

Several angry parents, on Monday, protested outside three branches of Ryan International School seeking security for their children inside and outside school premises.

Amongst many other demands, the worried parents wanted strict verification of staffers, peons and drivers. They also sought installation of cameras in classrooms and within school premises and woman attendants to accompany children in buses.

In May 2017, the dead body of a class I student was found floating in a reservoir in Vasant Kunj.  And with the death of a class II student was allegedly murdered by a bus conductor in the school's washroom the other day, the parents even more concerned about the safety of their children in schools.  

More measures demanded

Calling for verification of staffers, parents raised a memorandum with 13 demands and handed it over to the principals of the schools. It demanded banning of weapons/arms in schools, women attendants to accompany all students below six years of age to the toilets and a woman guard outside toilets to stop unwanted people and attendents, according to Times of India. The attendants should be present at schools half an hour before school hours, the parents demanded. 

Parents outside Ryan International School

A parent of a sixth grader told TOI that they sought reassurance from the principal when it came to security arrangements.The principal of the school, who initially refused to meet them, later met five representatives of the parents and assured them to do everything possible to ensure safety of the students. However, they were not given anything in writing, he added.

Father's mission

The grieving father, Varun Thakur, who appeared before the apex court on Tuesday said that he wanted to make the schools across the country a safer place.

"I hope to make schools across the country a safer place for kids like Praduman. I can at least draw relief that my tiny boy sacrificed his life for this noble cause. Let corrective steps be taken at least now. No other kid should meet this fate," he said.

"My only wish is that the truth should come out and justice be given to my wife and me. There is something which the local police are missing and so the case should be investigated by the CBI. There are a lot of loopholes that need to be investigated and the CBI can do indepth investigation which will clear the motive of the murder," he told the media.

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