Days after the Gurgaon police claimed to have solved the gruesome murder of seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur on the premises of Ryan International School’s Bhondsi campus, accused bus conductor Ashok Kumar has now said that he did not commit the crime and that the police tortured him to extract a confession out of him.
Marking the latest twist in this already murky case with charges flying thick and fast, accused conductor Ashok Kumar’s lawyer has told India TV that Ashok has denied his involvement in the crime during his meeting with him on Thursday.
Speaking exclusively to India TV, Mohit Verma, the counsel for accused conductor Ashok, said that the confession by the accused was extracted out of him under pressure. He was hung upside down and beaten with lathis, he said. When asked about Ashok’s on-camera confession to the crime, Ashok’s lawyer said police had administered drugs to his client to get him to confess to the crime.
42-year-old Ashok was arrested on September 8 for allegedly killing Pradyuman in Bhondsi’s Ryan International School after attempting to sexually abuse him. Kumar is accused of slitting the boy’s throat twice inside a school toilet with a knife that he had carried with him.
The knife allegedly used in the murder, blood samples of the accused as well as of the victim have also been sent to forensic laboratory in Madhuban, Karnal. Kumar was arrested by the police after he was identified by three students and he was also seen entering and exiting the toilet in the CCTV camera footage.
Police said that during questioning, Kumar maintained that he had killed the victim impulsively after he attempted to sexually assault him. He allegedly told the interrogators that he had to kill him because the victim had raised an alarm.
The police, however, have stuck to their theory and expressed confidence that their probe is in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the Guragon police has summoned the Mumbai-based CEO of Ryan group of schools to come to Haryana and join its ongoing probe into the barbaric murder of Pradyuman on the premises of its Bhondsi campus. According to the Special Investigation Team probing the case, the CEO’s statement and deposal is crucial considering that the school faces grave charges of criminal negligence.
Gurgaon police commissioner Sandeep Khirwar said Thursday that they have issued a notice to Pinto asking him to come to Gurgaon and join the investigation. The notice issued to Pinto seeks answers on security lapses in the school and the people who are responsible for these lapses. Among the most glaring of these lapses found during investigation is the absence of a pane or iron grills on three windows in the bathroom where Pradyuman was killed.
The police now wish to question Ryan Pinto, the head of management of the school, as to why repeated reminders for upgrading security were not met. “Lapses on part of Ryan School gave the perfect environs to the accused for murder. We will file the chargesheet on Monday or Tuesday,” the police commissioner said.
The move by the police to ask Ryan Pinto to appear before the probe team in Gurgaon follows the refusal by Bombay High Court to grant any relief to Ryan trustees – Ryan Pinto and his parents Augustine and Grace – who had moved court with pre-arrest bail pleas.
The HC on Thursday granted Pintos interim protection from arrest for filing appeal till September 15 and asked them to submit their passports in court by 9pm. The Pintos are expected to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking pre-arrest bail now.
Pradyuman, had on Wednesday filed an intervening application opposing the anticipatory bail pleas filed by the group's CEO, Ryan Pinto, and his parents - Augustine Pinto, the founding chairman of the group, and Grace, its managing director.
Thakur alleged in his application that the school's trustees were "vicariously responsible, liable, accountable, answerable for the culpability and guilt for which the bailapplication should be dismissed in limine (at the threshold)."
"The remorseless, spineless and senseless approach and attitude of the school management, its directors/CEO and other top notch executives in this rarest case is absolutely inexcusable and hence, the present bail application deserves to be dismissed in toto," said the application.
Thakur said he was shocked by the trustees' statement that they are not part of the crime as they do not look after the day-to-day working of each school.
If the top management of the school can share in the "plunder and prosperity", why should it not face the rule of law because of vicarious liability, the petition said.