He had two sets of school uniform. One he wore on Thursday, the day he died. The second his two elder brothers folded carefully into a box. Their mother sat in a corner, refusing to believe that her youngest son was dead. With no school to go to now, the two brothers are trying to do all they can to make themselves useful.
A wall near Ram Chandra Junior High School (RCJHS) , where Sandeep Kumar (7) studied, collapsed on Thursday killing him and injuring 24 others. The school was shut following the incident.
On most days Sandeep went to school with his brothers, Ajay (12) and Neeraj (9). But on Thursday, he went alone. His brothers’ exams were over and they had the day off. “Sandeep had a spelling test. The students were asked to sit near the wall, because the shed where they usually sat was wet. The wall fell five minutes later and he died,” Neeraj said.
Sandeep was born the year his parents, Dileep and Siri Devi, moved to Noida from MP. They hoped that being closer to the national capital would allow them to educate their sons better. But that wa s not the case. The nearest government school was filled past its capacity. The private schools in the neighbourhood were simply not an option for the couple. The RCJHS — with just three rooms with broken window panes and two cramped toilets — was all they could afford. “Earlier we paid Rs 620 per month as school fee for our three children. Now after Sandeep’s death, we will have to pay Rs 410,” Dileep said. The family lives in a tiny room at the end of Barola village, away from the visible markers of the village’s recently acquired wealth.
Dileep said he has filed an FIR against Praveen Kumar, whose wall had collapsed and killed his son. “The wall killed him. It was kaccha.
I have heard that the school was illegal. They have shut it down. I don’t know where to send my other sons. I don’t hold the school responsible,” he said.
A case was lodged against the school principal Janeshwar Prasad Saini for running the school without permission. A migrant himself, he opened the school a decade ago.
“He started the school for poor children. Parents have told us that he was not very strict about payment of school fees. He allowed children to study as long as parents “promised to pay him”. But the fact remains that this was an illegal school,” a senior police officer said.
Police confirmed that RCJHS was previously being run from a different location under the name of “Dayananda School”. But after receiving a show-cause notice from the Education department, the name and location were changed.
District magistrate Chander Kant said an internal probe has been initiated in the matter.