Ryan International murder case: As ministers hold high-level meeting, a look at the story so far

Union ministers Maneka Gandhi and Prakash Javadekar will hold a high-level meeting on Wednesday to develop a protocol for educational institutions to ensure safety of students following incidents of child sexual abuse in schools, a government official said.

The conference comes in the backdrop of the murder of Class II student Pradyuman Thakur inside Ryan International School in Gurugram for allegedly resisting sexual assault and the rape of a five-year-old girl in a private school in Shahdara.

Officials of the ministries of women and child development and human resource development as well as representative of the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), CBSE, NCERT, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan will be a part of this meeting, IANSreported.

The two ministries will develop a set of guidelines and protocols for schools to ensure that children are “protected from any kind of abuse or physical and mental harm”, a Ministry of Women and Child Development spokesperson said.

According to an ANI report, Maneka Gandhi requested Javadekar to consider suggestions such as having women employees as support staff and bus drivers and conductors in schools, screening of educational films on child sexual abuse in the schools, popularising POCSO e-Box and Childline 1098 through NCERT publications and having strict norms for employing the support staff. Maneka Gandhi has also given the same suggestions in her letter to the HRD minister, according to the ANI report.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has also discussed the matter with HRD minister Prakash Javadekar over phone and recommended that women be employed as support staff, including bus drivers and conductors.

She also stressed on the need to have strict norms for employing non-teaching staff, according to the official.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre and the Haryana police on a plea by the father of the Ryan student seeking a CBI probe into the murder as well as framing of guidelines to ensure safety of children.

The father, Barun Chandra Thakur, has sought laying down of guidelines by which “liability, responsibility and accountability of the management of the school” across the country can be fixed in matters relating to safety and security of children at educational institutions.

Postmortem report indicates no signs of sexual assault

Meanwhile, Thakur’s postmortem report  stated that there were no signs of a sexual assault on the child’s body. The doctors have confirmed that the child died within two minutes of the attack due to excessive blood loss.

However, the school authorities had claimed that the child was alive when he was taken to the hospital.

Dr Deepak Mathur, who conducted the postmortem, also said there were two cuts on the boy’s body and a nerve was slashed due to which he could not cry for help when he was attacked.

“The second point that came out in the report is that the child died due to excessive bleeding. There was no sexual assault on the minor and no semen marks were found on his school dress,” he said.

Meanwhile, police recorded statements of two students in connection with the murder of their schoolmate.

“The SIT recorded statements of two students who went to change their Taekwondo dress inside the toilet at the time of the crime. The team is also questioning the suspended school principal Neerja Batra and two other female teachers,” a senior police officer said.

As police are working to crack the case, Subhash Garg, a businessman, claimed that he saw the conductor carry the child to a car to be shifted to a hospital, on the orders of two teachers.

Garg said he had gone to deposit his son’s fees on Friday and was standing at the main reception in the school, when he heard some commotion.

“I saw two female teachers and two students were following an injured student who was being carried by Ashok Kumar. One of the teachers was weeping at that moment. She ordered Kumar to place him at the rear seat of the car,” Garg told PTI.

“There were also blood stains spread all over the place in a small toilet on the ground floor of the school building. There were blood stains on Kumar’s shirt which may be due to the fact that he was carrying the boy,” he claimed.

He further claimed that Kumar was behaving normally which is a rare thing for someone who has committed a crime, adding he recorded a 1.14-minute video of the incident.

The school bus’ driver Saurabh Raghav claimed Kumar was made a scapegoat by the school teachers.

The police arrested the school’s bus conductor in the case and remanded him to three-days custody after he confessed to committing the crime. ACP Birem Singh told reporters on Tuesday that the questioning of Ashok is complete and it is clear that he is involved in the murder.

While saying that only Ashok has murdered Pradyumna, the ACP added that negligence of the school is a different matter and two people are being questioned for the same. He also said that two children revealed that he was present in the toilet before the incident. Police sources also told DNA that Pradyumna had seen the conductor masturbating in the washroom. When the child tried to run, Ashok grabbed him.

Pradyumna was found lying in a pool of blood in a toilet in the school building by some students. “The students alerted the teachers and the school management then informed the police, who rushed him to Artemis Hospital. He was declared brought dead by doctors,” Ravinder Kumar, PRO Gurgaon Police, said.

Ryan International School chairman given interim protection from arrest

On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court granted interim protection from arrest to Ryan International Group’s founding chairman and managing director till Wednesday.

Ryan International Group’s founding chairman Augustine Pinto (73) and his wife Grace Pinto (62), who is the group’s managing director, had on Monday approached the high court seeking anticipatory bail.

Their counsel Niteen Pradhan had on Monday said that along with Augustine Pinto and Grace Pinto, their son Ryan Pinto, the group’s CEO, also filed an anticipatory bail plea.

However, Pradhan on Tuesday said that due to some problem, Ryan Pinto’s application was not filed with the high court registry.

“Ryan’s application for anticipatory bail is in process and will be filed soon,” he said.

Justice Ajey Gadkari said, “The applicants (Augustine Pinto and Grace Pinto) shall not be arrested till Wednesday. The matter is adjourned till Wednesday on the request of the additional public prosecutor appearing for the Maharashtra government.”

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai told the high court that the court would have to also issue notice and hear the Haryana government as the offence in connection with the boy’s killing is registered there.

To this, Justice Gadkari said, “For transit anticipatory bail, why should this court hear the Haryana government? Let the applicants approach the court concerned there.”

The court, however, posted the matter on Wednesday after Pai said she requires time.

Meanwhile, a lawyer, Gunratan Sadavarte, who was in the court when the matter was being heard, told the high court that he wanted to file an intervening application on behalf of some parents’ associations opposing the bail pleas of the Pintos.

Justice Gadkari, however, refused to hear him and said he can approach the court concerned in Haryana with his grievance.

Haryana Police question Ryan International School staff

On Tuesday, two officers from Haryana Police questioned staff at the Ryan International School in Kandivali in connection with the murder of a boy in the institution’s premises in Gurugram.

The two officials from Haryana Police were at the campus of Ryan International School, said DCP (Zone-XII) Vinay Rathod.

Of the two officials, one of them is an inspector-level officer. They are verifying documents and questioning staff, said an official.

Fourteen police teams have been constituted to probe the case.

The Haryana Police will be questioning school CEO Ryan Pinto and other top brass.

A monthly security audit of all schools in Uttar Pradesh and police verification of their staff are among the measures announced on Tuesday to ensure the safety of students after the Gurugram tragedy.

DGP Sulkhan Singh issued a directive to all the district police chiefs which stated that “concerned circle officers and beat personnel should do monthly security audit of schools in their area and prepare its report.”

Singh also said police should coordinate with schools and district magistrates and ensure security.

Uttar Pradesh police announce monthly security audit of schools, verification of staff

On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh police announced that a monthly security audit of all schools and police verification of their staff would be conducted to ensure the safety of the students.

DGP Sulkhan Singh issued a directive to all the district police chiefs which stated that “concerned circle officers and beat personnel should do monthly security audit of schools in their area and prepare its report.”

Singh also said police should coordinate with schools and district magistrates and ensure security.

The DGP’s directive spelt out measures like police verification of school staff, van drivers/conductors, checking unauthorised entry in schools and deployment of security at entry and exit gates.

Other measures include maintenance of a visitor register, installation of CCTVs, ban on fire arms and sharp edged weapons in the school premises, security at washrooms and separate washrooms for students, teachers and employees.

The DGP also said that identity cards should be issued to the entire staff; if any worker is called in they should also be given temporary ID cards.

The education department has already issued issued a circular for police verification of staff in Lucknow schools, bus drivers, and conductors.

The department has also banned use of smart phones by drivers and conductors in the capital’s schools.

Schools have been asked to ensure that sharp items do not make their way into school transport, District Inspector of Schools, Mukesh Kumar said.

The DIOS said that the use of smartphones by drivers and conductors of school vehicles has been banned as many times they are used to show objectionable content to children.

“We have also asked schools to ensure that sharp edged items are not there is school vehicles. This will be ensured by checking both by schools and the department,” he said.

The education department has also appealed to the parents to be cautious while hiring private vans for their wards.

Two Ryan International School officials arrested, police allege evidence tampering

On Monday, the police arrested Francis Thomas, legal head and Jeyus Thomas, HR Head of the Ryan International School group, who were produced in a Sohna court which remanded them to two days in police custody.

Gurgaon Police Commissioner Sandeep Khirwar said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case believes that evidence in the case was tampered with.

“The SIT said in the Sohna court that destruction of evidence was found to have been done. Attempt was made to wash away the blood stains from the spot where the child was found murdered. The blood on his water bottle and bag was also found rubbed. Some other pieces of evidence were also tampered with,” Khirwar said.


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