The brutal murder of the Class 2 student at Ryan International opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box on the basic issue of security.
New Delhi: Varun Thakur dropped his seven-year-old son Pradyuman at the school gate last fortnight, confident in the knowledge that he was now in a secure space, safe behind the walls of the upscale Gurgaon school.
But Pradyuman was found murdered a short while later in the washroom of the school, shattering Mr Thakur’s world and the trust of parents across the country who believe that school is a refuge as much as home is.
While incidents of bullying and accidents have often been reported from schools, private and government, the brutal murder of the Class 2 student opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box on the basic issue of security.
It was not just about Ryan International, which has several branches in the NCR region, but other schools as well, parents said as the ripples of insecurity spread, forcing school establishments and governments to conduct security audits.
A fact-finding CBSE team found there was a breach in the boundary wall at the Ryan International branch, insufficient CCTV cameras, many of which didn’t work anyway, and outsiders like bus conductors and drivers using the same toilets as students and staff. Moreover, the washroom windows did not have grilles.
Were other schools guilty of similar negligence? The question haunted many parents, some of whom didn’t send their children to school.
“The incident has left me scared and worried. As soon as my son leaves for school, I get anxious about his safety,” said Chiradeep Banerjee, a Kolkata-based data analyst who has a five-year-old son. There were several protests by parents, but marches were merely cosmetic, said Ashok Agarwal, national president of the All India Parents Association.
Mr Agarwal, who met Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday, has suggested higher representation — at least 50 per cent — of parents in the school management committees.
“The power control in schools needs to be shifted, because everybody except the parents will have vested interests. The only solution is at least 50 per cent representation of parents in the school management committees,” Mr Agarwal, who also gave a letter on the issue to the minister, told PTI.
In his view, the sense of insecurity in parents is on the rise. “They pay so much money to make their children study in private schools, so the least they can expect is for their child to be secure,” he said.