Poonam (23) and her husband Rajesh (28) live in a single rented room on a plot in Kapashera which accommodates 18 other families in similar rooms. While Rajesh sits on an upturned tin box with a blank look on his face, Poonam slips out of her post beside him to the nearest house in the colony with a television to catch the news every few hours.
“They keep showing footage about the other case… The education minister went to the child’s house, people organised protests on the streets for them… They live in Chhatarpur barely 10 km away, but no one came here… even on TV they don’t show our case… do they still not know about my son?” Poonam asks, more curious than angry as her husband brushes away tears.
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The “other” case she refers to is that of six-year-old Devansh Kakrora, who allegedly drowned in a tank in Ryan International School Vasant Kunj on January 30.
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Three days earlier on January 27, five-year-old Ankit Kumar died after he allegedly fell and drowned in an open septic tank in the MCD primary school in Kapashera.
On February 4, after a protest march outside Ryan school where hundreds participated, Sisodia went to meet Devansh’s parents. Ankit’s mother says she watched the protest and the meeting on television.
“Someone from the colony told me they were protesting. I thought we should go to Vasant Kunj, it’s not far from here… and talk about our case also. But my husband was in shock… he was not ready,” she adds.
On Monday morning, she watched how Devansh’s parents met the police commissioner. “He looks like a nice man… maybe we should write him a letter,” she says.
On being told that Devansh’s family is pressing for a CBI inquiry, she quickly changes her mind.
“Yes… I heard police arrested the principal of Ankit’s school, but she was let off. Does the CBI investigate all children’s cases? Will they take up Ankit’s case also?” she asks.
Ankit’s funeral rites were performed in their village. Ever since then she has been admonished for the tubectomy surgery she underwent two months ago. “My mother-in-law had been against the surgery. But I got it done finally… I wanted to give a good life to our boys and not keep having more children, so I fought against my husband and mother-in-law,” she says.
That both children had died in the same assembly constituency dawned on Ankit’s parents after Col Devinder Sehrawat, Bijwasan MLA, visited them Sunday. “He told us he had filed a petition in both cases… he told us not to worry and he would help us like he was helping them… I said we are too poor for sloganeering and our case was entirely in his hands,” says Rajesh, who works as a tailor.
South Delhi mayor Subhash Arya had announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation for the family this week, but Rajesh says the money has not come. “No one from the municipality has come and visited us. If they did, I would tell them to push for a CBI inquiry first. What will I do with money without justice?” he asks
Their room has a single bed, a gas cylinder is kept on the floor and some tin boxes which contain groceries. One wall has pictures of various deities and on the other hangs covers filled with Ankit’s clothes and books. Peeking out is a writing board with a Dragon Ball Z cartoon that he had brought for his first examination of his life in March. “He was excited to write his papers,” says Rajesh.
Their elder son Rohit (9) was a Class III student in the same school. Ankit had joined the school last year as a nursery student. “He did not want to go to the anganwadi, he cried when we took him there for a few days. He wanted to go to school with his brother, so last year we finally admitted hi,. He would wake up at 7 am and be ready for school before any of the other children,” says Poonam.
Asked if he wants to meet the education minister as well, Kumar almost smiles through his tears. “I am too poor.., my son did not die in a private school. How can I ask to meet the education minister?” he says.
After the funeral, the family left Rohit in their village with his grandmother. “How can I send him to the same school again? I will admit him to a private school there..,” says the father.
Meanwhile, the mayor said Ankit’s family would receive the sanctioned compensation money in a few days. “The money has been sanctioned. But the process takes a few days,” he said. Col. Sehrawat said he has filed a petition demanding action in Ankit’s case in the HC.
DCP (southwest) R A Sanjeev said police have recorded statements of a few others involved in the incident.