Arrested on 8 September on charges of murdering Class II student Pradyuman Thakur, bus conductor of Ryan International School Ashok Kumar was released from jail on Wednesday and returned home after 76 days. "I am thankful to God for delivering justice to me," he told media after being released.
Forty-two-year-old Ashok was arrested on the same day that seven-year-old Pradyuman's body was found in the washroom of school with his throat slit. The Haryana Police had claimed that the child was murdered by the bus conductor allegedly after he failed to sodomise the boy.
Ashok's wife, Mamta, however, told the media that the police forced the conductor to confess for the crime that he did not commit. Speaking to ANI, Ashok's wife said that the police authorities beat him up, hung him upside down, tortured him and even sedated him to confess for the murder of Pradyuman.
Bus conductor Ashok thanks the media for his return to his family, says he is in a lot of pain. His wife says, 'Police beat him up, hung him upside down, tortured him & even sedated him to make him confess.' #PradyumanMurderCase pic.twitter.com/Q6ca7emBYW
— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2017
The Haryana Police had claimed that Ashok had tried to molest Pradyuman, killing him with a knife when he resisted. Ashok, whose health remains poor, wasn't able to speak much, but Mamta claimed that the local cops even gave him electric shocks in order to get him to confess. Mamta added that Ashok getting bail was a form of justice for the family. Speaking to India Today, the couple said, "We knew from the beginning that he wasn't involved in the murder. The Gurgaon Police did not carry out a proper investigation. We have faith in the judiciary," she said.
Speaking to ANI, Ashok's sister-in-law said, "The police asked Ashok to say, he committed the crime and he won't be in trouble because of that. They told him that the whole nation is distressed due to the case and so he must confess. The police told him it's a small case and they will cover it accordingly."
"He got blood on his shirt, and the authorities asked him to wash his clothes and he was told that the child is fine," Ashok's family told ANI. Visibly upset over the issue, Ashok's family alleged that authorities "from top down are working together" and threatened legal action against everyone involved.
After Ashok's arrest in September, two school employees — bus driver Saurav Raghav and gardener Harpal as well as Ashok's father Amichand — had alleged that he was being made a scapegoat in the child's murder since he is poor. Amichand said his son was drugged and brutally tortured by police to own up the crime.
Following the teenager's arrest, Ashok's father had said that they would file a case against the SIT officers "who tortured and framed" his son, even drugging him to make him confess committing the murder before the media.
The state police claim was being questioned right from the very beginning — and more so after the case was handed over to the CBI. The agency, on 8 November, took a Class XI student of the same school in custody for the murder. As per the CBI, the senior student killed his junior just to postpone a parent-teacher meeting and unit test that day.
Ashok was granted bail by the court against a bond of Rs 50,000, which was reportedly crowd-funded from his village. According to The Times of India, people from Ghamroj village — where Ashok lived with his family — believed he was innocent and had been pooling in money since the time of his arrest. With Ashok's release, there were reports which claimed that the bus conductor, in all likelihood, might file a defamation case against the police officers who tried to 'frame' him.
The CBI was asked to submit the status report in the court after arguments by all parties on 20 November, and the judge had reserved the decision for Tuesday. "There was no proof against Ashok and the court granted bail under Article 21 that ensures right to life and liberty to every citizen. There was major conflict between theories of the CBI and the Haryana Police and he was granted bail on the ground of benefit of doubt," said Verma, adding the decision proved that police probe was shielding the real culprit and Kumar was implicated in the crime.
Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 13:38 PM