A gardener at Ryan International School, Bhondsi, said on Thursday he was slapped, beaten with sticks and his head dunked in water by police to force a confession out of him after the murder of Class 2 student Pradhyumn Thakur in a washroom on the campus last Friday.
This is the second time this week that the methods used by police in the probe have been called into question after bus driver Saurav Raghavalleged the cops put “mental pressure” on him to force him to admit he was an accomplice in the crime.
Gardener Harpal and Raghav were among those detained after Pradhyumn’s murder last Friday. Eventually, Ashok Kumar, conductor of the Ryan school bus that Raghav drives, was arrested for the murder. The family of the 42-year-old Kumar has alleged he confessed under duress since he was tortured. Police, however, say they have strong evidence to prove Kumar is the killer.
Harpal, a key witness in the murder case, was called for questioning once again on Thursday and TOI spoke to him after that. He said he was not the first one to see the boy lying with his throat slit — unlike what initial reports based on eyewitness accounts and police sources had suggested — but was the first to report it to a teacher.
“My duty starts at 7am in the school. After reaching school last Friday, I had worked for at least half an hour. There are three gardeners in the school. Two other gardeners were working when I came inside to drink water from the cooler. The cooler is placed just outside the (ground floor) washroom. I drank and started walking back but hadn’t even reached midway when I heard screams. There were two to three kids who said, ‘uncle ji, what has happened to this kid’, pointing to Pradhyumn. I also got nervous. The kids then told me ‘uncle, go and call Anju madam’ (junior school section-in-charge Anju Dudeja).”