A schoolteacher, her husband and two minor children were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly killing a 12-year-old student of the Sapphire International School (SIS), under Tupudana police station area in Ranchi, in the early hours of February 5. According to the police, the teacher, who also works at SIS, objected to the victim’s friendship with her minor daughter.
The victim, identified as Binay Mahato, died after he was allegedly beaten up by the teacher’s 16-year-old son, a Class XI student. The teacher and her son are alleged to have pushed an injured Mahato from the first floor. He was found unconscious on the ground floor, and died on the way to hospital.
According to the police, on February 4, the accused boy met Mahato, who lived in the school hostel, at the basketball court and invited him home. The teacher and her family live on the first floor of the staff quarters at the school.
“The accused boy asked Binay to come home at around 1 am as his mother was to prepare some delicacy, and he said he would keep some for him. He told him that his sister would also be present,” said Ranchi SSP Kuldeep Dwivedi, while retracing the sequence of events at a press conference here.
The hostel gates were reportedly open as the staff were busy with the annual day preparations. Mahato is said to have left the hostel at around 1 am. “He has been caught on CCTV camera leaving the hostel. From another camera, we realised that he had abandoned the normal route, where barricades and guards were likely to be present. He took a detour from behind the principal’s house and went to the teachers’ quarters,” said Dwivedi.
“The teacher’s son answered the door. He took him to the dining area, where he raked up the issue of Binay’s friendship with his younger sister. He told Binay that he should stay away… Binay argued with him. The accused then gagged him with his hand and punched him a few times in the stomach, before repeatedly banging his head against the wall,” claimed Dwivedi.
Hearing the commotion, the teacher and her daughter, who were asleep, reportedly woke up and saw Mahato lying unconscious on the floor. “They tried to wash off the bloodstains, but were not sure what to do with Binay. They dragged him across the corridor and pushed him down from from the first floor. At around 1:38 am, a teacher who lives on the ground floor spotted the unconscious boy,” said the SSP.
According to the police, while Mahato was unconscious, the accused called up his father, who teaches at another international school in Ranchi and lives there. The father reportedly advised him to be careful and remove all possible evidence.
“While the injuries were inflicted by the accused boy, the teacher and her husband were aware of Binay’s friendship with their daughter. They had taken up the issue with Binay a couple of times, but the two continued to remain friends. The family was very angry about this. All the family members were involved in covering up the incident,” claimed Dwivedi.
All the accused have been charged under Sections 302 (murder), 201 (destruction of evidence) and 34 (furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Initially, the police suspected the role of three teachers, who shared an apartment on the ground floor. The teacher who spotted Mahato was also among the suspects.
“The body was found outside their aparment and we recovered some things from their room which made us suspect their involvement, including the possibility of sexual abuse. However, the post-mortem report ruled that out. But, we still kept questioning them,” said Dwivedi.
According to the police, the breakthrough came when they examined the audio clips recorded on an Android-phone camera installed on the first floor. “The school has installed CCTV cameras in most places. Where they do not have CCTV, they have installed Android phones with cameras. However, these cannot record visuals at night. But it was the audio recording on that phone, at around the time of the incident, which made us suspect that somebody on the first floor could be involved,” said ASP (Hatia) Prashant Anand.
The audio clipping had sounds of something being cleaned, a grill gate being opened, and something falling with a thud, he added.