Hours after a 7-year-old boy was murdered within the premises of his school on 8 September, a Special Investigation team was tasked with the probe into the incident. A 42-year-old conductor of one of the school buses was arrested and he reportedly confessed to have tried to sexually assault the second standard student and killing him when he resisted. The Times Of India reports, the SIT found a host of security lapses on the part of the school that could potentially endanger its students and even the staff. The following lapses were found by the team, which is supposed to submit a detailed report today:
-- No police verification is done while hiring the non-teaching staff for the school, making it ridiculously easy for people with criminal pasts to get jobs in the school and be in the vicinity of hundreds of children.
-- There were no CCTV cameras in all the places where they should have been and several of the existing cameras were malfunctioning.
-- The team reported about 'openings at the back of toilets that could allow unauthorised entry and exit'. It is in the toilet that Ashok, the conductor, tried to assault the victim, failing which he stabbed him and slit his throat. TOI reports, that the probe revealed that all students' toilets in the school were easily accessible to 'unauthorised' people.
-- A boundary wall behind the school is unfinished and several fire extinguishers in the school are not functional, it was found.
-- India Today reports that the school and the local administration together had flouted several security provisions made mandatory by the police and the Punjab & Haryana High Court. The report states that the regional transport authority (RTA) has no record of the drivers and conductors working with most of these expensive schools run by 'influential' people. The schools never get their buses inspected by the RTA nor verify the credentials of the drivers and conductors they hire.
-- In 2013, India Today reports, the Punjab & Haryana High Court came up with 'Surakshit School Vahan Policy' to ensure that schools comply to certain basic security provisions. However, a RTI filed with the transport department in Haryana found that both the schools and the government department have been lax in implementing the policies. The policy clearly stated: "Specifically for bus drivers and conductors, whether employed by the school of contracted out, access area must be limited to just the bus area, and specific instructions must be given to them on which areas are out of bound for them. It is therefore suggested that a toilet is provided in this area of clearly specified with visible though secluded access, to prevent need for such persons to enter the actual school premises." It is clear that the court advised schools to keep interactions between non-teaching staff and children minimal and the school didn't follow the same. The fact that Ashok made it to the children's toilet with no one stopping him from doing so is evidence of how lax the schools vigilance was.
-- The same policy also stated: "Ensure proper verification of Drivers and Conductors/Attendants from police department which are appointed, if it was not done earlier." The school, India Today reports, not only didn't do any such thing, they confiscated the accused's Aadhaar Card after the incident possibly to feign that they had attempted background checks on the staff.
-- In fact, the vigilance was so lax, that the accused himself admitted that he followed the victim inside toilet and then tried to rape him. When he resisted, he slit his throat, washed his hands and knife and then came out, following the victim, to feign innocence. The driver of the bus told India Today that teachers and other stuff refused to touch the bleeding child, instead made the man who assaulted him, carry him to a staff member's car in the school premises and then drove to the hospital. Ashok Kumar actually got to enter the toilet and stay that long without a in-charge finding out he was there.
According to latest reports, the principal and some teachers of Ryan International School's Gurgaon branch have been arrested following protests by parents.