Unanswered questions in Navi Mumbai school boy's mystery leap off terrace

Days after 12-year-old Vignesh Salunke died under mysterious circumstances at Saint Joseph school at Kalamboli, his parents, neighbours and friends claimed that the boy could not have committed suicide and that there are loopholes in the ongoing investigation.

Also read: Joyful, bright 13-yr-old 'jumps' to death from 4th floor of Navi Mumbai school

The allegation has also been levelled by the deceased’s father, Satish Salunke, a constable. Calling his son’s death a “mystery”, Salunke pointed out that his son’s body bore no major external injuries even though school and police authorities claimed that the boy jumped to his death from the terrace of his school, which is on the sixth floor.

“The most crucial evidence was visible on his own body he had bruises on his hands and legs,” said the grieving father, adding that he suspects a conspiracy. Sunday Mid-day reached out to those who knew him and they all had one question why would Vignesh kill himself? The question, interestingly, remains unanswered.

No external injuries
On July 17, Vignesh allegedly jumped to his death from his school terrace and the CCTV installed captured him running towards the terrace. Salunke, however, stressed that his son could not have taken the extreme step. “He was joyful and did not show signs of depression.”

He added that the police are yet to hand over the CCTV footage to them, which is believed to have established the suicide. Dr B S Lohare, the doctor who conducted the post-mortem at the Panvel rural hospital, declared the cause of death as hemorrhagic shock due to multiple injuries on the body.

But when asked for a clarification regarding the external injuries, he claimed, “The boy has fallen from a height and must have landed on his feet, due to which he did not sustain injuries on his skull. Because of the nature of the injury, the femur is jutting out through the right ankle.

He has also sustained severe internal injuries on his chest and was bleeding from the nose and ear.” When questioned about whether he studied the crime scene in detail, he said, “I was not called by the police to study the crime scene.” Furthermore, Lohare could not ascertain whether the fall was homicidal, suicidal or accidental.

No CCTV on terrace
In the CCTV footage, the boy is seen scaling a wall and running towards the terrace. Police and school officials claimed that the boy left his bag on the terrace and climbed a ladder to reach the water tank from where he jumped to his death. However, there is no evidence to prove the claim as no CCTVs are installed on the terrace.

Sanjay Lonkar, a neighbour who knew Vignesh for long, suspects foul play. “He might have accidentally witnessed the school authorities indulging in some wrong doing. In the CCTV footage, he looked tense, as if someone was following him to the sixth floor.” Vignesh’s mother Ratna Salunke, who is in deep shock, refuses to believe that her son took such a drastic step.

“Usually I pack roti and jam in his lunch box. But on the day of the incident, he asked me to pack a sweet roti with ghee for lunch. He drank milk and smiled at me, while waving goodbye.” She said her son was a bright student. “I have never received a complaint from his teachers. He was bright not only in studies but also actively participated in extracurricular activities like Kung-fu, drawing, elocution,” Ratna said.

Close friends remember Vignesh as a helpful and down-to-earth student. “We knew each other since Class 1. A day before the incident, I saw him enter my classroom for work since he was the class monitor. I also met him at our coaching class, where he spoke to us normally. I will miss my friend,” said one of Vignesh’s best friends, who requested anonymity.

Cops still unclear
Meanwhile, investigating police officials are unsure about certain case details. For instance, they are yet to establish the reason behind the jump. Speaking to Sunday mid-day, B D Mohite, senior police inspector at Kalamboli police station, said, “Many things are still not clear. We are investigating the case and cannot comment further on a sensitive matter like this case.”

Kalamboli student suicide: Parents demand CCTV footage from previous day

Following the incident, authorities at Saint Joseph High School have installed grills in all corridors. “This is a precautionary measure. The wall which Vignesh climbed was kept open as a fire exit. We are cooperating with the police in every way we can,” said a school official, requesting anonymity.

Vignesh’s six-year-old brother Karmanya is a student at the same school and his parents are now considering over withdrawing his admission. The family also met state education minister Vinod Tavade to request a thorough investigation. “We are not happy with the way the police are investigating the case They did not involve higher officials from the police department,” Satish added.

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