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Ryan murder: Trustees refused advance bail; more arrests likely

September 14, 2017 23:08 IST

The Gurugram Police detained and questioned Harpal Singh, a gardener at the Ryan International School, who is a key witness in the murder of the Class 2 student, and is likely to make more arrests, a senior Special Investigation Team officer said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Bombay high court rejected the anticipatory bail pleas of three trustees of the Ryan International Group but granted them interim protection from arrest till Friday to enable them file appeal.


The court also directed the group's CEO Ryan Pinto and his parents Augustine Pinto, the founding chairman, and Grace Pinto, the group's managing director, to submit their passports to the Mumbai police.

In Gurugram, the Special Investigation Team probing the case continued to make efforts to gather more clues as it has decided to file a charge sheet soon. The investigators quizzed the gardener whom they had detained on Wednesday, according to the officer.

Seven-year-old Pradyumna Thakur was found with his throat slit in the school washroom last Friday.

School bus conductor Ashok Kumar emerged as the prime suspect and was arrested the same day.

"The SIT does not want to leave out a single piece of evidence which can be important and work as a key breakthrough for us to solve this case. With three days left for submission of charge sheet in court, we have got possible positive leads against the accused Ashok Kumar," the senior SIT officer said.

Some more arrests are likely to be made, he said. SIT members yesterday searched the school for clues while a CBSE panel also inspected the premises to examine loopholes in security arrangements.

Besides Harpal Singh, the SIT has questioned 17 persons including section in-charge Anju Dudeja, suspended acting principal Neerja Batra, former principal Rakhi Verma, bus driver Saurabh Raghav, bus contractor Harkesh Pradhan and eight security guards.

New CBSE guidelines require schools to conduct psychometric evaluation of staff
Placing the onus on schools for safety of students on their premises, the Central Board of Secondary Education on Friday issued new security-related guidelines that included a psychometric test for teaching and non-teaching staff.

The board has asked schools to complete the evaluation process within two months and implement the other guidelines, failing which they would face de-recognition.

The board's directive comes amid increased concerns about safety of students in school premises.

‘Such verification and evaluation for non-teaching staff such as bus drivers, conductors, peon, and other support staff may be done very carefully and in a detailed manner. This may be complied and reported online on CBSE website within two months of receipt of this circular,’ the CBSE directive states.

Safety audits, installation of CCTV cameras, police verification, constitution of parent-teacher-students committees to address safety needs of the students and taking regular feedback from parents are among the other measures prescribed by the board.

‘The onus for safety and security of children in school campus shall solely lie upon the school authorities. It is a fundamental right of a child to engage and study in an environment where he/she feels safe and is free from any form of physical or emotional abuse or harassment,’ the directive further says.

It also says that access to the school building by outsiders should be controlled and visitors monitored.

‘Training should be provided to the school staff to address their responsibilities to protect children from any form of abuse.

‘Any violation/lapses with regard to safety and well being of children in school campus would invite appropriate action including the disaffiliation of the school as per the provisions under affiliation by-laws of the board,’ it adds.

Schools have also been asked to constitute separate committees for redressal of grievances of the public, staff, parents and students, an Internal Complaints committee to deal with sexual harassment, and committees under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012.

‘Details of the these committees along with contact details shall be displayed prominently on school notice board and conspicuously on the school website for information of all stakeholders,’ the communication sent to schools says.

Ensuring employment of support staff only from authorised agencies and maintenance of proper records is another one of the guidelines.

All suspects on the radar, whether it is the suspended school principal, senior management officials or staff members, were being questioned, the officer said.

"The SIT has recovered a total 200 pages of correspondence from the Ryan headquarters in Mumbai, which includes the records of five page documents on safety of children, three pages on fire safety equipment, four pages on safety norms and 39 pages on road safety of the school," he said.

Narayan, one of the school guards, gave details as per which the school hired eight guards, who worked in two shifts.

"During the day, only four guards were present in the school to secure the safety of 1200 students," Narayan said.

He added that three of the guards were deployed at the gate and the fourth at the entrance of main building.

The security and safety arrangements at the school have come under scanner following the brutal murder of the seven-year-old on its campus.

"We are also interrogating the security guards also," the SIT officer said.

Meanwhile, at the Bombay high court, Justice Ajey Gadkari told the group's CEO Ryan and his parents to submit their passports to the Mumbai police commissioner.

The Pintos had approached the high court seeking transit anticipatory bail apprehending arrest in connection with the murder of the seven-year-old boy in the toilet of the school in Gurugram.

They had sought pre-arrest bail till they could move the court concerned in Haryana.

"The applications... stand rejected. The interim relief granted to them earlier shall continue till tomorrow 5 pm," the judge said.

Barun Thakur, the father of the boy, had intervened in the matter, opposing the Pintos' bail pleas.

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