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Political patronage may hamper Ryan International school murder probe

It’s been two days that, Pradyuman Thakur is dead and no stern action has been taken against the authorities of the school. Just to complete the formalities, two officials have been arrested at the Ryan International School in Gurugram, where a seven-year-old boy was murdered in a toilet. The Principal, Neerja Batra, was detained and questioned. The arrests of the regional head and the Human Resource (HR) chief follow an investigation that has pointed at serious security lapses after a school bus conductor was arrested for the Class 2 student’s murder after a sexual assault attempt. A team of Haryana policemen have headed to Mumbai to question the school’s management. We know how the state of Haryana has become lawless in present scenario. Let it be killing of Jats, pampering the rapist Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim or killing of the students in school. These are the daily incidences that occur, hit headlines and fade. Kattar is most inefficient CM of the state.

In this killing, our wish is that the truth should be unveiled and justice must be delivered to the child’s parents. There is no point in arresting the principal and talking about the security arrangements, police verification etc. That is actually a political way of overlooking the real issue. Even if the police verification of the culprit was conducted and even if the compound wall existed there this crime could have occurred. The school management contracted a security agency that didn’t do its job. Was cost the only consideration when this security agency was selected? Were there adequate security staff deployed for the safety of the students? Was the security agency specially asked to prevent non-students (including parents) from using washrooms meant for students? Whose responsibility was it to monitor the functioning of the security staff? The school management was busy minting money and appeasing political parties but they forgot their moral responsibilities towards the young kids who are their responsibility during school hours.

Pradyuman Thakur is second such case in recent times; Devansh Meena went missing on January 30, 2016, shortly after taking part in a poetry contest. An electrician discovered his body hours later inside the tank at Ryan International School in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area. During the investigation, the police found out that there was no caution notice on the hazardous and out-of-bounds area at the place of the incident. The gate of the pump room was open and unattended by the staff responsible for keeping it locked. The items found from the water tank indicated that the area was approachable by students, which should not be the case. The CCTV cameras installed in the school did not cover a large area due to which the boy was not spotted. The school management deployed security cameras in the school. Many of the cameras were not working on the day of the incident. Whose job was it to ensure that the security cameras worked?

Did the school conduct any verification of the support staff? Besides bus conductors and gardeners, was there any support staff that interacted with kids (such as ayahs)? Were the support staffs trained to handle kids? After Devansh Meena’s death what lessons were drawn and what corrective measures were undertaken by the Ryan International Schools Group to make students safe in their schools? At that time, the Ryan school management tried to blame the child by calling him a “special child” who had a tendency to run away from the class. This time, after another death in their premises, the management is trying to portray itself as a “victim of unfortunate circumstances”. When a minor is entrusted to a school, isn’t it the school’s responsibility to ensure their safety inside the school, just as it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their safety at home?

The owner of the school Grace Pinto said that she is associated with Delhi BJP Mahila Morcha, but the party’s women’s wing president Kamaljeet Sehrawat said she does not know Pinto and is unaware of any such membership campaign. But there are thousands of pictures which indicate her close proximity with BJP leaders including our home minister to PM. During 2014, Pinto instructed her school teachers to add at least 10 members per person and a form was distributed for the same. They were also asked to give a missed call on 18002662020 (toll-free), which was answered with a text message containing the primary membership number of the BJP. The school staffs were used to campaign for BJP and its leaders. The management – specifically the Chairman of the Institute, Grace Pinto was forcing parents to join the BJP and that the recruitment drive was actually across various institutes across the country. Some of the staff even alleged that their salaries were being withheld until they fulfilled this quota. The drive was even apparently hi-tech, with parents who belonged to common teacher-parent WhatsApp groups getting messages with a number on it – asking them to give it a missed-call. What is happening in these schools? There can be nothing more dangerous than schools forcing students into politics. Students go to schools to study and make a career for themselves, not to join political parties.

The same Pinto family earlier served their loyalties towards UPA, but seems they did not really pay much attention to Mrs Pinto, so she switched loyalties towards BJP. Ryan International Group of Institutions, despite its fancy foreign name, has very Desi roots. The private institutions for education were started in 1976 by Augustine Pinto, with a St. Xavier’s High School in Borivali, Mumbai.  Things have expanded greatly since then, with the Christian minority institute going on to open some 100+ schools over the years. To quote Augustine Pinto, from the enterprises’ official website – “25 years ago, God planted a seed in my heart and directed me to spread affordable, high quality English medium education within Indian society. Finally, our efforts, dedication and vision have helped us establish one of the largest chains of high quality education institutes in the country.” Mumbai still takes the cake, with some 27 schools dotted around the Greater Mumbai area.

Such is the background and its intention, the never ending greed for money and power lead this Pinto family to utmost arrogance and insensitivity, many teachers are victims of countless things in these schools. Anyways, finally the Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea of Varun Thakur, the father of Ryan International School student Pradyuman Thakur. Court should pay attention to various factors such as the school provided perfect environment for the crime to happen. The CCTV was not working, the students and staff were using the same wash rooms, there was no restriction on the movement of bus drivers and conductors within the premises after students had come in for the day. Who is supposed to formulate and implement policies for regulation of such situations? Hope the truth comes out and Ryan International School management get punished. This won’t get ahead and fade in political patronage.

 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@afternoonvoice.com)

Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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