Two Ryan school officials arrested over 7-year-old’s murder (Second Intro Roundup)

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New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Two senior officials of the Ryan International School here have been arrested in connection with the brutal murder of a seven-year-old boy in the school premises last week that sparked massive public outrage.

As police set up at least a dozen teams to probe the brutal murder of Pradhuman and shaken parents associations of Ryan International Schools in Mumbai, Delhi, Noida and other places protested seeking their children’s safety, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Central and Haryana governments on a plea by the boy’s father seeking a CBI probe into the September 8 killing of his son who was found with his throat slit in a school washroom.

Police said they also questioned the school staff even as a separate probe team team left for Mumbai to interrogate school CEO Ryan Pinto and director Augustine Pinto.

A senior Gurugram police officer told IANS that the school’s northern India head Francis Thomas and HR head Jeyus Thomas were arrested on Sunday night after their questioning.

“Francis Thomas and Jeyus Thomas were arrested under the Juvenile Justice Act,” the police officer said.

Both were produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate, first class, Mohammed Zakkaria, who sent them to two days police custody. Police also accused both of tampering with evidence.

Gurgaon Police Commissioner Sandeep Khairwar told a news channel that Juvenile Justice Act had been invoked because there were glaring lapses due to which security of the child was endangered and the crime committed.

Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar, a conductor of a school bus, who was arrested for the murder, was also presented before the court on the expiry of his three day police custody and sent to 14 days judicial custody. However, many believe that he was made a scapegoat and the man’s family too claimed he was falsely implicated since he was poor.

A decision to install closed-circuit television in all classrooms, stairways, galleries, washrooms, and other open spaces in all schools was also taken, while in neighbouring Delhi, the government announced police verification of non-teaching staff of all government/private schools in three weeks.

The murder of Pradhuman led to angry protestors staging demonstrations outside the school located in Bhondsi on Sohna Road.

At least 50 people, including nine scribes and photo journalists, were injured on Sunday when police baton-charged a group of protestors in front of the school building. A police officer was suspended on Monday for using force against journalists.

Pradhuman’s mother Jyoti said the school management “misguided” them after the murder and his father Varun Thakur, a senior executive in a private firm in Gurugram, was compelled to move the Supreme Court for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Issuing notice, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud also issued notice to the Union Human Resource Development Ministry and the Central Board of Secondary Education on Thakur’s plea seeking framing of guidelines for the safety of students in schools.

Thakur also sought setting up of a committee to inquire into the lapses leading to the death of his child. He wanted to ensure that schools were made accountable in cases related to safety of children.

Meanwhile, Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said there should be more and women employees in a school campus.

“Even school buses can be driven by women,” he said, adding that he will talk to parents and schools.

All Ryan group schools in Gurugram have been ordered to remain shut on Monday and Tuesday following directions of the district administration amid heightened security at the school premises.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the trustees of the Ryan International Schools filed an application in Bombay High Court seeking anticipatory transit bail to move an appropriate court in Haryana.

Augustine F. Pinto and his wife Grace Pinto, trustees of the St Xaviers Education Trust that manages the Ryan International Schools, have sought the bail and the matter is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.

The sudden move by the high-profile Pinto couple — Augustine, a former Sheriff of Mumbai and Grace, close to the top-ranking Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) echelons — came amidst reports that a Haryana Police team would question them and other trustees.

However, the names and whereabouts of the other trustees of the St Xaviers Educational Trust — registered as a Public Charitable Trust in Maharashtra in the early 1980s — are not known and it is not clear whether they would be implicated in the case.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, the besieged Pintos and their lawyers were not available for comments in the matter.

–IANS

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