Two months after a bus conductor was arrested for the murder of Pradyuman Thakur, a seven-year-old student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon, the CBI, in a sensational twist to the case, announced on Wednesday that a Class XI student of the same school had been “apprehended” for the murder.
In what raises serious questions about the Gurgaon police investigation, the CBI said that the 16-year-old boy killed Pradyuman as he wanted to get a parent-teacher meeting and exams postponed. “He believed that a sensational act would either force the school to shut down for a few days or create enough disruption to cancel the exams and the parent-teacher meeting,” said a CBI officer.
The boy was picked up from his home in Sohna on Tuesday night, said CBI sources. The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in Gurgaon allowed the CBI to question him for three days. The CBI is learnt to have told the JJB that the boy had “admitted to his involvement in the murder”.
“The Central Bureau of Investigation has apprehended a child in conflict with law, a student of senior class at Ryan International School, Sohna Road, Gurugram in an ongoing case related to the murder of a seven-year-old boy, a student of 2nd class at Ryan International School, Sohna Road, Gurugram on 08-09-2017,” said a CBI statement.
Pradyuman was found dead, with his throat slit by a sharp-edged weapon, inside the school’s bathroom on the morning of September 8. The Gurgaon police arrested the school’s bus conductor, Ashok Kumar, the same day, and claimed that he had killed the boy after attempting to sexually assault him.
But the CBI on Wednesday cleared Kumar, saying that it had not found any evidence against him. “Forensic examination and post-mortem reports have also ruled out any sexual assault on the victim,” said the CBI spokesperson. According to CBI sources, Kumar said he had confessed to the crime under pressure from the Gurgaon police.
The agency zeroed in on the Class XI student after detailed investigations which involved Kumar’s interrogation, scanning of CCTV footage, forensic examination of crime scene, study of call data records and examination of various witnesses.
The CBI scanned the school’s CCTV footage, and made a list of suspects based on those seen entering or exiting the bathroom. During questioning of the school’s staff and students, the agency learnt that it was the Class XI student who first informed the school gardener that Pradyuman was lying in the toilet, said CBI sources.
The CBI claimed that a detailed analysis of call data records also pointed to the involvement of the boy, although it did not specify how. The agency has also recovered the murder weapon, which was found in a commode in the bathroom, said the CBI spokesperson.
CBI sources claimed that the boy had bought the knife from a local market. They claimed that while the act was pre-planned, the victim had not been chosen beforehand. “It was a coincidence that Pradyuman was alone in the toilet when the suspect decided to act,” said the CBI spokesperson.
The CBI told the JJB that it wanted to “reconstruct the scene of the crime” by taking the boy to the bathroom where Pradyuman was killed, as well as the shop from where the knife was reportedly purchased.
Sources said over 125 people, including students, were questioned. Some students are learnt to have said that the Class XI student had indulged in violent behaviour in the past. According to the agency, the boy was weak in studies and had confided his fear of the upcoming exam and parent teacher meeting to his friends. Sources said he was more interested in extra-curricular activities and was good at music.
The agency will also begin a probe into destruction of evidence in the case, and that could involve questioning of some Gurgaon police officers, said sources.
Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and state police top brass maintained that the development did not reflect the department’s “failure” since the case was handed over to the CBI “midway” through the police probe.