The sprawling campus of Ryan International School in Gurugram, where a 7-year-old student Pradyuman was found on Friday with his throat slit outside one of the washrooms, looks like a fortress, with several guards manning the two front gates. However, a walk along the 10-foot-high walls to the back of the building leads to a gaping 300-metre-wide open stretch of the wall that lies unguarded.
The opening is now fenced by barbed wires. At several places, the barbed wires too have yawning gaps. One such opening has been plugged with a black net and some broken branches. Once a trespasser gains access through the opening, the football field and lawn tennis court, just a few metres away, can be accessed, eventually gaining entry into the walkway that leads to the school reception.
“They have been building this boundary wall for the past two years. They built around 100 metres and left it like that. Many cows have entered the school; even labourers from the surrounding areas enter the school premises at night,” says Narayan Singh, who has an eatery in the lane outside the back gate.
Twenty metres from the back gate is where bus conductors and drivers meet every morning after dropping off the children in the morning. Parents and local residents The Sunday Express spoke to alleged the drivers and conductors walk out through the back gate to the nearby ‘English Wine and Beer Shop’ and consume liquor near an open field, after which they re-enter the campus through the main gate.
“They come in groups of seven or eight. They buy liquor and consume it in the open or in the nearby fields. Then, they go back through the back gate and sit on the school lawns and chat while they wait for their shift,” says Keshpal Tawar, who works at a pan kiosk outside the back gate.
Angry parents who had gathered outside the school on Saturday accused the school of not taking security seriously. “They have taken Rs 300 from us for identity cards. I got my son admitted in April and they have still not issued him an ID card. When we try and enter the school to see how our children are doing, they never let us past the reception area,” says Ankit Chabra, whose son is in Class 6 in the school.
Inside the reception room are glittering trophies won by students. Round the corner from here is a gallery that bears grim reminders of the tragedy that struck a day earlier. Four classrooms — for kindergarteners, first- and second-grade students – are located here, along with two bathrooms. Outside the bathroom near a computer lab is a blotch of dried blood on the wall.
Hundred metres from the reception is an open area, where around 15 buses stand parked. The guard posted outside the main gate says there are around 25 buses, 27 drivers and 25 bus conductors. “The conductors do not have any washrooms. Earlier, they used to urinate in the open fields outside the campus, but later, they started use the school bathroom,” says a security guard.
The school spokesperson, however, claimed in a WhatsApp message that there were separate washrooms for the conductors and other staff. He said “necessary improvements and measures are being audited and reinforced with the help of the experts. We are taking vigorous safety measures to ensure the safety of the students and the staff”.
Pradyuman’s batchmates and other students at the school told The Sunday Express that a female attendant used to be deputed outside the washrooms. However, they are usually not around in the afternoons.