In a murder that has triggered widespread outrage, a seven-year-old student of Class 2 at Ryan International School in Bhondsi was killed by the school’s bus conductor who slit the boy’s throat with a kitchen knife after allegedly attempting to sexually assault him on Friday. The killing inside the school’s bathroom triggered protests by parents of other students, who destroyed tables and glass panes inside the school’s premises, before Gurgaon police announced the arrest of the conductor, Ashok, who hails from Ghamroj village in Haryana.
The victim, Pradyuman, is the son of Varun Chand Thakur, a private firm employee.
According to police, the attempted sexual assault and murder took place within a span of 15 minutes after the school’s morning assembly, when the boy went to the bathroom.
Ashok, who was relieving himself at the time, allegedly tried to sexually assault the boy, said police. But with the boy fighting back, the accused slit his throat with the knife and walked out after washing his hands.
The boy was found inside the bathroom by the school’s gardener, who raised an alarm. According to investigators, Ashok rushed forward and started crying for help, too. “He tried to hold the boy’s body and cried for help. He created a lot of drama to distract police,” said sources.
Police said they cracked the case after two students told investigators that they had spotted Ashok enter the bathroom at the time of the incident. “The accused was detained along with two other staffers who were questioned. Ashok confessed to his involvement in the crime,” said Birem Singh, ACP, Sohna Road.
According to police, Ashok has been with the school for the last four months.
“There were two cuts on the boy’s neck. One was superficial but the other was long and deep, cutting almost the entire depth of the neck,” said Dr Deepak Mathur, who conducted the autopsy.
“There were no physical findings of sexual assault. If there was an earlier attempt, we cannot say, but there were no fresh indications of it,” he said.
According to police, the accused allegedly smuggled the knife into the school in his pocket.
Simardeep Singh, DCP, said, “He was taking it for sharpening but when the child screamed for help, he used it to slit his neck. The kitchen knife used in the crime was found lying next to his body.”
Neerja Batra, school coordinator, said, “We could not find the boy after the morning assembly. We took him to the hospital after he was found and informed his parents. We are cooperating with police.” The smuggling of the knife inside the school was “a matter of police investigation”, said Batra.
Pradyuman’s father, Varun Chand Thakur, a quality control manager at Orient Craft, said, “I had dropped my son and 11-year-old daughter Vidhi at school around 7.55 am. I got a call from my wife Shushma around 8.10 am that Anju Dudeja, one of the teachers, had informed her that my son was bleeding profusely and they had taken him to hospital. They said that is was an accident.”
Thakur said that he and Shushma rushed to the Badshahpur hospital where their son was admitted only to be told that the boy had been shifted to Artemis hospital. By the time Varun reached Artemis, his son had been declared brought dead by the doctors.
Demanding that the school principal be named in the FIR, Thakur said, “We hold not only the killer but also those who let him inside the gate with a knife responsible for the killing of my son.”