Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar said on Friday he had full faith in the police but went ahead and announced a CBI investigation into the murder of seven-year-old Pradhyumn Thakur inside a Gurgaon branch of Ryan International School on September 8.
The Haryana CM made the announcement while meeting Pradhyumn’s parents at their home, a week after the boy was murdered in the washroom of the school’s Bhondsi campus.This means the police will no longer file their chargesheet in the case.
“It was an extremely unfortunate incident. I have come to meet the family and express my grief,” Haryana CM said at the Thakurs’ Shyam Kunj residence. Meanwhile, Ryan group founder A F Pinto, his wife Grace and son Ryan moved the Punjab and Haryana high court in Chandigarh for pre-arrest bail. Hearing is likely to take place next week.
A Mumbai court had earlier granted the Pintos interim protection till Friday.
The CM said he was acceding to the family’s demand of a CBI inquiry . “Haryana Police has been conducting the probe properly . But we will write to the home ministry demanding a CBI probe.We will also appeal to the CBI to fast-track the case,” he said.
Asked what action would be taken against the school authorities, since the government had registered a negligence case against it, Khattar said, “All lapses will be looked into and strict action will be taken against all of those found to be involved in the case.”
The transfer of the probe to the CBI means police will no longer file their chargesheet that they had promised within seven working days.Sources said the chargesheet was almost ready and could have been filed by Saturday or Monday. But police must now hand over all case documents to the CBI. A member of special in vestigation team (SIT), led by DCP Ashok Bakshi, that has been conducting the probe said the chargesheet would have named Ashok Kumar as the only accused in the murder case. The officer also claimed police had joined all the dots amid allegations by Kumar’s family that he was being framed and even the boy’s parents wondering if the police had arrested the right man.
Kumar (42), conductor of a school bus at Ryan Bhondsi, was arrested on the September 8 evening. Police say he tried to sexually assault the boy and murdered him with a knife -purportedly from the bus toolkit that he had brought to the toilet to wash -when he resisted. Police commissioner Sandeep Khirwar had even given a timeline to TOI on Thursday, saying Pradhyumn was in the washroom for just three minutes before he was murdered.
Later, police registered another case under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act for security lapses by the school and arrested two senior Ryan officials -its north India head Francis Thomas and HR head Jayesh Thomas. The charges were added to the original FIR registered for murder.
Sources said the CBI could take charge of the case early next week, after a notification is formally issued by the government. The central agency will have to re-register the police FIR to officially begin its probe. The custody of all accused, along with documents, will also be transferred by the police to CBI. Hearings too will shift to a CBI court. “We have sent the reference to government for a CBI probe,” Khirwar said. “The CBI will use our investigation and FIR as a precursor to their investigation.”
Pradhyumn’s father Barun said he was satisfied with Khattar’s announcement, and his fight for justice would continue. “I am satisfied with the CM’s decision to hand over the case to CBI. I am sure the CBI probe will help expose the culprits. But my fight for justice is not over. I demand that the Haryana government form strict safety guidelines for all schools so that no other parent goes through the pain and agony we are going through.”