Hundreds of angry parents on Sunday staged a protest outside the Ryan International School in Gurugram for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the murder of a seven-year-old schoolboy, a demand which the Haryana government expressed willingness to accept.
A liquor shop, situated just 50 metres from the school, was set ablaze and some of the demonstrators threw liquor bottles inside school premises to vent their ire against the school management, police said.
The protestors alleged that school drivers and conductors often consume alcohol from the liquor shop in their free time.
The protestors were demanding that the school be shut until a CBI probe is ordered into the horrifying incident in which the Class 2 boy Praduman Thakur was found with his throat slit in a school washroom on Friday last.
The murder, in connection with which a bus conductor has been arrested, has triggered a major outrage.
Police used batons to quell the protest and detained 20 protestors. Cameras of some photojournalists were also damaged during the protest.
"The police had to use mild lathicharge to disperse the agitators. The police detained over 20 protestors found agitating outside the school," said Ravinder Kumar, PRO of Gurugram Police.
Police Commissioner Sandeep Khirwar denied the charges of mediapersons being targeted by the cops.
"As per my knowledge, a fair warning was given to clear the place and nobody was targeted. However, if any mediaperson has been injured, then I express my regret and we will analyse the entire episode. But there was no intention to target anyone," Khirwar said.
"On behalf of police authorities, I want to request the district administration that the mediapersons should be given best medical treatment," he said.
Police has arrested school bus conductor Ashok Kumar in connection with the murder.
According to police, Kumar was inside the toilet, waiting for any student to come inside with the motive of alleged sexual assault. The deceased was the first student who entered the toilet, the police said.
Education minister Ram Bilas Sharma on Sunday said the charge sheet in the case will be ready within a week as he police was speedily conducting the probe.
He, however, added that if the parents of the child insist on a probe by the CBI or any other agency, the government will accede to their demand.
Sharma said the government has fixed a seven-day deadline in the case where the accused is booked under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (for murder).
"We have directed the Gurgaon Police to book the owner of Ryan International School, Albert Pinto, under section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Punishment) Act, 2015, for cruelty to a child meted out by the custodian in the charge sheet to be submitted in the court within 7 days," he told reporters in Gurugram.
"This is the minimum time in such cases," he said.
"However, if the child's parents still feel they are not satisfied, then as per their wish, we can get the case investigated by any agency including the CBI," he added.
The minister said 'some loopholes in the security' were visible in the case and the toilet window was also found broken from inside.
"We accept negligence on part of the Ryan International School but the school cannot be derecognised as the future of 1,200 students is at stake," he said.
Sharma also made it clear that the school management has to take responsibility for the safety and security of the children.
"We are issuing directives in this regard to all schools including private ones," he said.
"We held a meeting today in which the demand to derecognise the school came up, but we also had to take into account the fact that 1,200 students are studying there. The parents of the students studying in this school were against this step and, therefore, we felt taking such a step will not be right," he said.
"However, for any kind of lapse, by the management or the owner, we have initiated action," he said.
The accused was arrested within hours of the murder after which a court in Gurgaon sent him to police custody for three days.
"The murder accused has already been arrested. Now, within a week, the police after collecting all necessary evidence will submit a charge sheet in court. However, still if the parents are not satisfied, then the Haryana government is ready to get the matter probed by any agency.
"I am hopeful that when we will produce the accused before court within a week with all evidence collected by the police, the parents of the child will be satisfied with the action being taken," he said.
"We have full sympathy with the parents of the child. If there is any issue of providing financial help, the Haryana government will be willing to help," he said.
The minister made it clear that the Haryana government will not show any leniency in the matter.
"Whatever strict action needs to be taken as per the law will be taken in this case," he asserted.
He also said a liquor vend near the school has been ordered to be shut down permanently.
Meanwhile, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said a CBI probe should be ordered.
Upping the ante against the BJP government in Haryana, Hooda said, "This government has lost the trust and confidence of the public. By assaulting mediapersons, the government is trying to suppress voice of the people."