Child rights commission demands explanation from school over death of Virar schoolkids

Authorities of Vagad Gurukul International School, Virar told the Maharashtra Commission for Protection of Child Rights that the three children who died had not committed suicide; panel summons school principal and teachers for next hearing

Three months after bodies of three Std IX students of Vagad Gurukul International School in Virar were found in a river behind the institute, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has sought an explanation from the school.

Prahul Patel, Meet Chadwa and Kushal Dagha left the premises of Vagad Gurukul International School in Virar on August 25. Their bodies were found in the Sukh River behind the school 36 hours later
Prahul Patel, Meet Chadwa and Kushal Dagha left the premises of Vagad Gurukul International School in Virar on August 25. Their bodies were found in the Sukh River behind the school 36 hours later

While police missed the hearing held in the city yesterday, representatives of the school insisted that the deaths were not suicides, but rather an accident. The three boys, Prahul Patel, Meet Chadwa and Kushal Dagha, went missing on August 25 from their hostel rooms at 8 pm.

Two teachers of the school were arrested in August for their alleged involvement in the case. File pic
Two teachers of the school were arrested in August for their alleged involvement in the case. File pic

Nine children had left the premises, but the bodies of these three were found floating in the Sukh River behind the school 36 hours later. Virar police arrested two schoolteachers for abetment to suicide, and two others for severely punishing other students of the school. However, the cops later dropped charges of abetment to suicide, and all four were released on bail.

“We spoke to the other six kids of our school who had left along with these three children, and they all stated that they were planning to go and have fun in the rain. No child was assaulted or depressed,” said Nilima Sharma, director of the school.

Sharma added that the school compound wall was being reconstructed, and a barricade had been placed in its place, which was missing. “These children broke the barricade and left the school premises. None of the students or teachers noticed the three children were depressed,” added Sharma.

‘School must answer’
“The students must have been either depressed or unhappy about something, which is why they left the school premises without informing authorities. The entire situation sounds very fishy and the school has to own up to a larger role in this case,” said A N Tripathi, secretary of MSCPCR.

“When parents admit their children to a school, it is the school’s responsibility as a guardian to ensure their safety. The school can’t wash their hands of this,” added Tripathi. The commission has summoned the school principal and some teachers for the next hearing, insisting that it is impossible for students to leave without any reason.

Meanwhile, parents of the three students have alleged that the police are toning down the case. “The chargesheet says our children committed suicide, whereas the autopsy clearly shows there were injury marks on their bodies.

The depth of the river was barely three feet, so our kids couldn’t have drowned either. It’s really sad that the school got away so easily,” said Suresh Chadwa, father of Meet. “We recently filed a writ petition in the high court against Virar police and their inefficiency in handling this case. We will not rest till we find the culprits,” he added.

These children broke the barricade and left the school premises. None of the students or teachers noticed the three children were depressed - Nilima Sharma School Director

When parents admit their children to a school, it is the school’s responsibility as a guardian to ensure their safety. The school cannot wash its hands of this - A N Tripathi MSCPCR secretary

The chargesheet says our children committed suicide, whereas the autopsy clearly shows there were injury marks on their bodies. The depth of the river was barely three feet, so our kids couldn't have drowned It’s really sad that the school got away so easily - Suresh Chadwa, father of Meet

Out on bail
Virar police arrested two schoolteachers for abetment to suicide, and two others for severely punishing other students of the school. However, the cops later dropped charges of abetment to suicide, and all four were released on bail.

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