Bhopal/Patna, Aug. 24: Gwalior police are investigating whether a smartphone smuggled into a dormitory led Scindia School seniors to bully a Bihar minister’s son, now critically ill in a Delhi hospital after an alleged suicide attempt.
Reports of a claim by Gwalior police sources that one of the three seniors who harassed the victim was the son of a BJP parliamentarian today prompted Bihar’s Janata Dal (United) chief minister to issue a statement.
“Such incidents should not be seen through party lines. It has nothing to do with the JDU and the BJP,” Jitan Ram Manjhi said.
However, the role of the school, one of the country’s most prestigious, came under the scanner amid charges of widespread ragging, silence and inaction by authorities, and delay in contacting the police after Wednesday night’s incident.
Police sources said the Class IX pupil, son of Bihar cooperative minister Jai Kumar Singh, tried to hang himself in his hostel before being taken to a local hospital and then to Delhi.
Officers told The Telegraph on the condition of anonymity that the boy had smuggled a smartphone into his hostel, Mahadji House, against the school norms and uploaded his Facebook profile with it.
They added that three seniors — including the sons of a judicial officer and a local businessman — had been “punishing” him for this for a fortnight, forcing him to repeatedly adopt a stress position called “murga”, beating him, and forcing him to sweep the floor.
Minister Singh has denied a suicide attempt and alleged a “throttling” bid on his son who, he said, had told his mother his House seniors were harassing him for refusing to polish their shoes.
He said the boy was being denied meals, a charge corroborated by Gwalior additional superintendent of police Mohammad Yusuf Qureshi, who heads the probe.
“This came to light during interrogation of the boy’s cousin, who studies in the same school (in Class IX),” Qureshi said.
“We have gathered circumstantial evidence and recorded the statements of the boy’s cousin, classmates, senior students and some school employees, which hint at the victim being harassed by seniors.”
Qureshi said initial investigations had indicated that “ragging” was widespread in the school. “We are asking the school authorities and local doctors why they did not inform us when the boy was found hanging in the dormitory,” he said.
Gwalior police, who have taken suo motu cognisance of the case, sent a forensic team to the school who questioned many teachers and attendants today.
A member of a parallel probe team set up by district magistrate P. Narhari said that school officials had admitted the victim had complained of physical harassment but claimed he had not named anyone.
The school management today issued a statement saying: “The cause of the incident is being investigated by a special committee set up by the school and appropriate action will be taken following the findings in the matter.”
No statement has come from Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, head of the school’s board of governors, though he met the boy’s father in Delhi on Friday.
He was today elected unopposed as chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association in Indore, where he has been camping since Friday evening.