In wake of the recent murder of a seven-year-old student inside the premises of a private school in Gurgaon, followed a day later by the rape of a five-year-old girl in Delhi's Tagore Public school, the Delhi government on Monday issued a mandatory direction to all Delhi schools to submit a record of their staff members within a week to get them verified by the local police stations.
Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday called an emergency meeting with all governmental departments, police officials, and schools (private, government, and MCD) , and listed out a set of instructions to be followed by all schools.
Two Ryan school officials arrested
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.
Pradhuman Thakur, a Class 2 student, was found with his throat slit in a school washroom on Friday.
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.
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 Gurgaon police officer said 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 of police custody. Police also accused both of tampering with evidence.
Gurgaon Police Commissioner Sandeep Khairwar said 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.
Bus conductor arrested for murder of the seven-year-old
Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar, the 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 of 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.
Police baton-charge protestors outside school
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 reporters 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 Gurgaon, was compelled to move the Supreme Court for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Safety of students in schools
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 the framing of guidelines for 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 women employees in a school campus.
"Even school buses can be driven by women," he said, adding that he would talk to parents and schools.
All Ryan group schools in Gurgaon have been ordered to remain shut on Monday and Tuesday following directions of the district administration amid heightened security at the school premises.
Ryan International group's CEO moves Bombay HC for anticipatory bail
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 Pintos, in their pleas, said while the death of the boy was unfortunate, the management cannot be held culpable and that they themselves were victims of the unfortunate circumstances.
“The death has caused deep pain and grief not only to the parents and family of the child but also to the trustees, management, staff and students of the school,” the applications said.
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.
CCTV cameras a must in schools, says Delhi govt
In a press conference, Sisodia disclosed the issues taken up at the meeting, and said that private schools' political linkage is the major reason behind the occurrence of such cases.
"Until the big private schools are not emancipated from political protection, they will do anything they want in this country. Students may get exploited and murdered and no one can touch them," he said, adding that he has been informed that Ryan international school's Managing Director (MD) was responsible for conducting BJP membership drive among parents which hints at a political link.
The Deputy CM slammed the school authority for the dysfunctional CCTV cameras at the school premises.
"If you can send messages for BJP membership, it means you have resources, but you don't have resources to mend cameras?" he said.
In this regard, the Delhi government has directed schools to install CCTV cameras in all classrooms, corridors, stairs, outside washrooms, and playground, and asked Head of Schools (HOS) to submit an online report on the Directorate's portal informing the functionality of the CCTV cameras each month. A deadline for submission is yet to be decided.
Manish Sisodia also called for a regressive round of police verification of all staff members working in whatever capacity within three weeks.
A record of all employees will have to be submitted to the local police station, which will then generate a verification report within 15 days.
Non-compliance with the directions will lead to strict actions, informed the Deputy CM.
In addition, another report with a record of employees and their verification status will have to be submitted, which will be updated every month as well.
A committee comprising principals of schools of Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Delhi government, New Delhi Municipal Council, the private ones, and officials of transport and education departments will also be set up which will device comprehensive suggestions for safety and security of children in schools.