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Shubham Tukaram Khandale, a student of Class VI at the Rajiv Gandhi E-learning School, died after falling from the third-floor false ceiling of the school auditorium at Sahanagar Tuesday. The incident took place during the lunch break. Khandale was rushed to Rao Nursing Home, but was declared dead, and his body sent to Sassoon General Hospital for post-mortem. As news of the incident spread, Khandale’s neighbours, local political workers and PMC officials visited the school.
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Senior Inspector Anil Patil of Dattawadi police station said, “A case of sudden, accidental death has been registered. We will conduct a primary probe to ascertain the facts and a decision on filing of offence will be taken later.”
According to school authorities, Khandale was playing badminton with his classmates in the corridor next to his classroom. One side of the corridor has only half a wall while the remaining portion has a wooden partition, which has a window at the end of corridor. Beyond the wooden partition lies the ceiling of the school auditorium, which is made of plaster of paris. The auditorium itself is located three floors down.
“While playing badminton, the shuttle cock fell beyond the wooden partition, on the false ceiling. The window was latched from inside and a wire had been used to tie it up, but the boy somehow managed to open it. He must have thought the flooring was a permanent one and when he jumped onto it, he fell three floors below. After the other children raised an alarm, we immediately rushed him to the hospital, but he died,” said Charusheela Mantri, the school in-charge.
While the crowd gathered outside blamed the school for keeping the makeshift portion accessible to students, Mantri denied any charges of negligence. When The Indian Express visited the spot, the wooden window was found secured with a flimsy latch, which could easily be opened by reaching across to the other side. Asked why the school had not taken adequate precautions to secure the window, Mantri said, “Such an incident has never taken place earlier. The area was adequately secure”.
She added, “We didn’t know the children would go to the extent of taking the wire off. The boy should not have done that… it is unfortunate”. Mantri said they would now secure the area by installing a grill.
PMC officials who visited the school said they are investigating the incident. “It appears that the school had secured the area by latching the window and securing it with a wire,” said Dipak Mali, education officer (secondary), PMC.