In one of the most shocking incidents, a seven-year-old boy in Ryan International School in Bhondsi area near Gurugram, was found dead by a school staff in the school washroom with his throat slit. A knife, presumably the murder weapon, was found near the body. The boy is identified as Pradhuman, a Class II student. Forensic expert Deepak Mathur, who conducted the post-mortem examination, informed that the deceased had two cuts on his neck. His throat was almost completely slit. Haemorrhage and excessive blood loss was the cause of death.
People, including parents of other students, gathered outside the school campus were speculating about the possible reasons for the murder with some speculating that he may have fallen prey to the deadly online ‘Blue Whale’ game. Some senior student may be playing the deadly ‘Blue Whale’ game and he targeted innocent Pradhuman to complete his task. Otherwise, who will carry a sharp knife into school?” many people reasoned.
Someone may have tried to sexually assault the child who was murdered for resisting, said others. Some suspected school bus staff or Class IV staff to be behind the crime.
The incident has sent shock waves across the nation and has refreshed the unfortunate cases which occurred around December 2014 in the school massacre of the Peshawar Army Public School by Taliban posted on Tehreek- i- Taliban Pakistan’s website which has set the school authorities across the nation to review the security system of the institutions. It is more relevant for the education institutions in India, where even the internal security of the students is in question. The recent series of security issues include a series of controversial sexual abuse of toddlers in junior section, leakages of question papers in High School section and violent incidents at the college level. Universities also keep hitting the headlines for various inconsistencies in both academic and administrative issues.
The heinous Peshawar School attack which killed 145 people, including 132 children, is being condemned worldwide. But here in Meghalaya, a day after the incident, the trigger happy Meghalaya Police personnel in Tura assaulted three teenagers, including a 19 year old girl, and pointed their service revolvers at every individual who attempted to stop them.
Another concern about the safety of the children came to fore when it was learnt that Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) is using children to carry explosives. The exposure came to light recently at Williamnagar, when the shopkeepers reported to have chased away a child, a young boy who wanted to keep a black bag in a shop for someone else to pick up. Just after some time there was chaos due to bomb threat in the main market.
About a decade back the kidnapping case of two toddlers on their way to school is yet to be solved; it is almost seven years now, but there is no information on the whereabouts of the siblings.
The state government was struggling to cope with children employed in rat hole mines besides the reported abuse of street children, mainly the rag pickers. This all indicates that the children in Meghalaya are actually being exposed to all sorts of threats.
Coming back to the school kid’s murder in Gurugram and Taliban threat for more attacks on educational institutions, Meghalaya is sitting on a volcano. From the playschool till the university level, the security arrangement here is so lax that anyone can easily break in to the premises even during class hours.
Most of the private educational institutions here are owned and managed by unqualified individuals, who are out there only to make money, as for them education is just a business. Hence, no qualified teaching teams are provided. How does one expect such institutions to provide security system to students who are just a client for the management?
The rest of the states are working out strategies and standardized guidelines for the security of the educational institutions, not only after the threat of more massacres like the Peshawar School attack, but also keeping in mind the barbaric crimes committed in private schools in Bengaluru where children as young as 3 year old are raped!
The famous cliché – prevention is better than cure, should be the guiding force for Meghalaya while working out guidelines for the security of the students. It is best to nip the problem in the bud that is to close down all the educational institutions which do not comply with the requirements. It is better to close them down before any misfortune occurs; once such dubious institutions are closed down, the authority can easily monitor the remaining ones.
It will be most unfortunate to act only after the incident has occurred, or once the terror strikes because every individual soul is precious. The parents too need to investigate on the authenticity and credibility of the educational institutions that are supposed to impart not only knowledge but also to mould children’s character, spirituality and make them better citizens.
One of the easiest steps to start is to raise the question if the respective children, wards or relatives are secure in the educational institution they have been sent to for studies. If not, then suggest remedies or simply shift them to a safer institution which will surely prevent casualties, caused either by a terror attack or internal forces.