Ranipokhari/Dehradun: He was allegedly made to wrap his arms and legs around a pipe and was thrashed by a bat and stumps by two of his seniors. He was then stripped naked and drenched in cold water. His mouth was then stuffed with ‘Kurkure’ and biscuits, shoved down the throat with the help of a bucket full of filthy water from the toilet.
For the 12-year-old class 7 student of Home Academy Senior Secondary School in Dehradun’s Ranipokhari district, far worse followed for over six hours on the fateful day of 10 March. Not one of over 200 students and four staff members at the school’s boys residence hostel, a two-floor campus spread over just 500 square yards, could hear his wails.
Within a few hours, the minor school student died of internal haemorrhage.
Three weeks after the incident, ThePrint has accessed statements of the main accused, postmortem reports and eye-witness accounts to piece together the details of the gruesome murder of the the 12-year-old.
The police probe has revealed several new details after the two main accused — the minor’s seniors, Shubhankar (19) and Laxman (19) — and three of the hostel staff on duty — Ashok, the physical education teacher, Ajay, the hostel warden and Praveen Mesih, from the school administration — were arrested on 23 March.
“While the two class 12 students have been arrested for murder and destruction of evidence, the staff of the school and hostel were arrested under section 201 IPC (disappearance of evidence and giving false information to screen offender),” Ashok Kumar, director general, Law and Order, Dehradun said.
The arrests were made after the postmortem report on 22 March established the murder.
The Children Home Academy, as mentioned in the police records, is a missionary school which was started in 1974 under a non-profit called Children’s Home Society. It has over 400 students — both hostelers and day scholars. While the hostelers are only those children whose parents stay in leprosy ashrams across the country, the day scholars are children from the surrounding villages. The academy claims to provide free education, shelter and food to children staying in the hostels — both girls and boys, and charges a minimal fee from the day scholars.
The two main accused — one from Punjab and the other from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh — are children of leprosy patients.
On that day, Shubhankar and Laxman, both roommates, allegedly barged inside the minor’s room at around noon. The kid’s room — number 2 — on the ground floor was just meters away from the office of the hostel-in-charge.
The two started thrashing the minor. He had allegedly tried to steal a pack of biscuits from a grocery store next to the school and after the shopkeeper complained about the same to the authorities, a planned Sunday outing for all students was cancelled as a punishment.
ThePrint read the statements of both the main accused where they admit that they wanted to teach the minor “a lesson” for spoiling their Sunday plans.
The duo said they went to the minor’s room armed with stumps and a bat and beat him. Then they dragged him to the basketball court and made him take rounds till he was exhausted.
“The duo made him take several rounds of the court till he was exhausted. They thrashed him with the bat on his shins if he stopped,” the investigating officer of the case told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
“Then they dragged him to the terrace of the hostel and asked him to wrap his legs and arms around a pipe,” he said.
“Scared, the minor followed the directions. When he wrapped himself around the pipe, the duo thrashed him, concentrating the blows on his lower body — hip, thighs, bottom of his feet and shins.”
‘Filthy water, rajma chawal, Kurkure’
The minor’s roommate, who was on the terrace and is now an eyewitness in the case, told the police that when the kid asked for water, the duo dragged him to the tank on the terrace that stores unused filthy water and forced him to drink it.
The two senior students then allegedly dragged him down to the dining hall and made him eat rajma chawal.
“The eyewitness stated that the minor was completely exhausted and was unable to walk. He requested the duo to leave him, give him some rest, but they did not listen,” the officer said.
According to the eyewitness account and statement of the two accused, the duo then stripped the minor naked, and again thrashed him on his hip.
“We also made him take a bath and have rajma chawal in the dining hall, before we dragged him to the terrace again,” said the statement of the accused.
This time the duo allegedly took the minor to the terrace of the dining hall.
According to the police, they took out some money from the minor’s pocket and ordered a junior to fetch ‘Kurkure’ and biscuits.
“They stuffed the minor’s face with a pack of Kurkure and biscuits, while they thrashed him. When the minor asked for water, they asked a junior to get a bucket of water from the toilet,” the officer said.
In their statement, the duo admitted to having put the minor’s face inside the bucket till he started gasping for breath.
“They admitted to have told the minor — ‘pee le jitna paani peena hai (drink as much water as you like)’,” said the probe officer.
Vomiting, then death
Six hours later, at around 6:30 pm, the school’s bell for “study time” rang and the two seniors allegedly took the minor to the dining hall again.
“The two seniors threatened the minor of dire consequences asking him to not complain about them and made him sit in the dining area. They cleaned his face, adjusted his clothes and made him sit in a corner seat,” the investigating officer told ThePrint.
When the hostel warden on duty, Ajay, came to check if the students were studying, he saw the minor sitting in a corner with his head down. He then asked one of the students to see if he was fine.
“As soon as the minor got up, he vomited and then fainted,” the officer said.
The minor was then taken to the local Jolly Grant hospital. While the school authorities claim that he died during treatment, the hospital said that he was declared dead on arrival.
“When enquired upon, the staff nurse said that the minor was dead when he was brought to the hospital,” a second police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity.
In their statement, Shubhankar and Laxman admitted that after the news of the minor’s death reached the hostel, they took the stump which they had used to thrash him and burnt it with a heap of garbage.
The police have recovered a half burnt stump from the hostel premises, said the investigation officer.
While the school authorities tried to pass it off as a case of “food poisoning”, the postmortem report accessed by ThePrint showed the minor sustained 17 injuries on his hip, thighs and under his feet.
“Injury number 17 on his hip with a blunt object damaged pulse and led to internal bleeding,” said the postmortem report.
The 16 other injuries included blue marks and abrasions on his thighs and under the feet.
“The two seniors tortured him in a way that no injury mark was visible on his face or upper body. He was thrashed near the hip area, thighs and under the feet,” said the investigating officer.
However, a school official who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint, “When we asked the doctor at the hospital, he informed us that it seems like either a case of food poisoning or pneumonia. No major injury marks were visible on his body, hence the doctors too opined that it is poisoning.”
After the death memo was issued by the hospital, the body was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, for a postmortem examination.
Till it was decided that the body will be taken to AIIMS Rishikesh, the school authorities did not care to inform the minor’s father, who stays in a leprosy ashram in Hapur, Uttar Pradesh.
“I was called and told that my son was ill. When I reached Rishikesh, the school authorities told me that my son was dead. This was hours after my son had died and his body taken to Rishikesh,” said the father.
Body buried with Christian rituals, father clueless
Speaking to ThePrint, the minor’s father claimed that his body was directly handed over to the school authorities, who took him back to the hostel and buried him with Christian rituals at a burial ground next to the hostel.
However, the school authorities and the police refuted the allegations, saying the father had signed an affidavit declaring he was unable to take his child’s body to Hapur and had no objection if his son’s last rites were done in Bhogpur village where the school is situated.
The investigating officer said the minor’s body was handed over to his father after the postmortem but he said “he had no means to take it back”.
“We even told him that we will arrange for transport and his last rites but he refused. He then was made to sign an affidavit and he has also given an application in his own handwriting stating that he has no objection if his son is taken to Bhogpur,” added the officer.
ThePrint has a copy of both the handwritten application and the affidavit signed by the minor’s father.
It reads, “I am unable to take my child back to Hapur. I willingly want that my son’s last rites be done in Children Home Bhogpur. I have no objection whatsoever and I will not question the organization or make any claim that will go against the institution in future.”
However, after the postmortem, the father said he was made to sign on some papers.
“I do not know what they made me sign. They just asked me to put my signatures and I did. I was alone, in grief and did not know what to do. They then took my son and buried him.”
‘Academy running illegally’
After the gruesome incident was reported, Uttarakhand’s State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) chief Usha Negi visited the Children Home Academy and its hostel for an inspection.
“The hostel is registered as an orphanage when it is not. They do not have any valid papers of either the school or the hostels,” Negi told ThePrint.
She said SCPCR has already informed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) about the details.
“We have also conducted four inspections that revealed shocking details,” said Negi.
The SCPCR chief said upon inspection, she found that extremely poor quality food was served to the children and they were made to work inside the kitchen and forced to clean toilets in unhygienic conditions.
“Also, there are no CCTV cameras in either the school or common areas of the hostel,” Negi said.
“When we asked them to furnish documents of the school and the hostel, they had no answers.”
The child rights body chief also alleged that “a girl has committed suicide in the girls hostel run by the same academy”.
“One boy from the same boy’s hostel had gone missing last year, a gang rape was also reported from the same school, but the authorities in connivance with the police department hushed up the matter,” said Negi.
“Now, since I have joined, I have taken the matter in my hands and I will get to the bottom of it,” she said.
“They are running a school and doing all sort of illegal things, while making money. They claim to give free education but it is not true. Parents have approached me stating that they are forced to pay Rs 3,500 per month for their kids,” she said.
However, Sanjay Kumar, administrator, Children Home Academy, denied Negi’s claims as “mere allegations”.
“The hostel is free for all, we only charge a minimal fee from day scholars. This is an institution for kids of leprosy patients. We teach them about Jesus and his teachings,” said Kumar.
“Our mission is to serve the nation and mankind through education and inculcate moral values in children.”