Let’s raise a fearless and aware generation

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Not even a single explanation can justify the horrific incident that happened at the Ryan International School in Gurgaon. How can someone kill a child and that too inside a school’s premises? This question hovers in the minds of all those distressed by the dreadful murder. As a result, parents, children and the Indian society at large is losing trust in the education system and institutions in the country.

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The case of seven-year-old Pradyuman, who was brutally killed inside the washroom of his own school which he loved going to, is getting complex day by day. The police had arrested 42-year-old Ashok Kumar, a conductor of one of the school buses, for allegedly killing the student. The child’s parents sought a CBI or SIT probe into the murder, permission for which was recently granted by the Supreme Court.

Different probes have found many loopholes in the security system of the school. Even the SIT’s probe has raised several questions. As the investigating team found a broken window in the bathroom, it raised the question that if the conductor is the real culprit then why didn’t he try to escape? Why was he the one who along with other staff members took the child to the hospital? The dilemma doesn’t end there, as he also stayed back at the school.

I wonder how a killer can participate in the life-saving procedure of his own victim. Does he belong to the cruelest and heartless class of humanity? Or is he not the killer at all?

The CBI took over the case last week and in accordance with the process, the agency has re-registered the FIR of the Gurgaon Police which was earlier probing the matter.

During the investigation, major lapses were found in the security system — low quality of CCTVs, a broken boundary wall, lack of security guards, common washrooms for the bus drivers, conductors and students. Apart from the broken window, many other unresolved mysteries arose that baffled the parents’ community. One of them was the presence of the murder weapon, a knife, inside the bus.

Who was the owner of the knife? Was it deliberately left on the bus by someone or had Kumar brought it himself with or without the motive to kill the child? Was the murder of the seven-year-old pre-planned? All these and many other questions are being asked.

The father of the child, who is bravely facing all the questions forcefully asked by my media friends, has been continuously saying that there is a larger conspiracy behind the murder of his child. The incident has not only shaken the parents’ trust but also moved the judiciary to direct the education board, police and the political system of the country to look into the safety measures of all schools. This direction of the apex court has given a sigh of relief to all the parents who have lost their trust in the educational structures and even feared to send their kids to schools. Yes, the incident made parents so fearful that many of them didn’t send their children to schools for many days.

As the case led the court to pass directions for putting in place some strict measures, out of fear all the schools initiated the process of setting up intense security measures on their premises.

In India, we generally wait for some mishappenings to occur before we set up the required systems in place. We have become habitual of waiting for a crime to take place before we start taking precautions

This made me think about the fact that in India, we generally wait for some mishappenings to occur before we set up the required systems in place. We have become habitual of waiting for a crime to take place before we start taking precautions or begin the process of eliminating criminals from our society.

Following the Ryan incident, many guidelines have been issued and many leaders have come forward to speak against the improper safety measures in schools. For instance, going on the same path, Sandeep Chaudhary, SP, South Jammu also launched a drive to ensure safety and security of school children in Jammu. Various school administrations in the city have been contacted to provide lists of their staff, bus conductors, bus drivers, janitors, other helping staff and security guards. He has also said that a thorough verification of backgrounds of the staff will be conducted.

The Gurgaon incident also triggered a lot of outrage and protests by the parents’ communities at various Ryan schools located in Delhi-NCR. The schools, however, urged the parents not to generalize the incident. And they are right. Even as it is imperative for schools to ensure safe and secure environments on their premises, we need to keep intact our trust in schools and other systems involved in the education of our children. Else, it won’t be long for our fears to convert into phobias and our children, with no mistake of their own, will be at the receiving end of this whole emotional and trust issue.

Their learning, acquisition of knowledge and growth will slow down and a sense of fear and mistrust will take them over. We certainly don’t want an unskilled, fearful and incompetent generation to lead the nation.

Let’s give another try in building up the trust in our education, security and judicial system. Let’s raise a fearless, confident and aware generation equipped to handle emotional and physical challenges.

Yashica Jalhotra was recently seen climbing the wall of her child’s school as the security guard didn’t allow her to go inside without an authorised pickup card. But she says she is innocent.

letters@tehelka.com