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School faces CBSE deaffiliation

The Sephali International School in Fatuha

Patna: The Fatuha-based Sephali International Residential School is set to face de-affiliation following the murder of a six-year-old lower KG student, Abhimanyu, in one of its two hostels late on Sunday night.

The boy's body was recovered by the police from a room of the facility early on Monday morning.

Patna superintendent of police (rural) Anand Kumar, who is monitoring the investigation being carried by the special investigation team (SIT) under the supervision of a sub-divisional police officer, said on Saturday, "We are writing to the CBSE (central board of secondary education) to strike off recognition as the school doesn't fulfil requisite criteria."

The SP said apart from lack of basic amenities and other infrastructure, the school didn't have taken any initiative to provide security to the students, the urgent need of the hour. The school didn't have installed CCTV cameras. Neither had it taken precautionary measures despite it being a co-ed institution that imparts education up to Class X, the SP said. SP Anand has urged the management of all local schools to install CCTV cameras at the earliest for security reasons. "Had the cameras been there, the culprits would have been caught the same day. It took more than 72 hours to zero in on the main accused, a Class VIII student of the school, who confessed to the crime," he said.

The 16-year-old girl was formally arrested on Thursday and produced before the juvenile justice board in Patna, which later sent her to the Gaighat-based shelter home for girls. The girl was sent for medical examination for the second time on Saturday, sources in the SIT headed by Fatuha SDPO Sunil Kumar told The Telegraph.

Taking a serious note of the incident, Patna district education officer (DEO) Jyoti Kumar has set up a three-member team to inquire into the matter. The members of the probe team headed by Patna district programme officer (DPO) Bibha Kumari would visit the school and submit its report within 24 hours.

DEO Kumar admitted that Sephali International School was affiliated to the CBSE and it was up to the board to initiate disciplinary action against it. On the contrary, media in-charge of the CBSE, Rama Sharma, said the state administration should initiate disciplinary action as the board granted affiliation to the institution on the basis of a "no objection certificate" issued by the government.

A group of parents whose wards were admitted to the Sephali International School said the de-affiliation would jeopardise the career of hundreds of students who were admitted to the school. The officials of the district administration, however, said that the students would be admitted to other schools of the locality, if the affiliation was cancelled. Around 400 students were admitted to the school, which was affiliated to the CBSE.

The SIT, meanwhile, has detained five suspects for interrogation. Preeti, the dead boy's elder sister, also a student of the same school, told police that all boarders, including Abhimanyu, had gone downstairs on the night of July 8 to watch Hindi movie Nagin.

On Friday, Jan Adhikar Party (Democratic) and Madhepura MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav met inspector-general (Patna zone) N.H. Khan and requested him to set up an SIT at his own level to ensure justice to the family of the dead. Khan assured the MP that he would issue an order after the Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj's return from duty.

Earlier, Yadav and his supporters met the bereaved family members at Rasalpur village under the jurisdiction of Fatuha police station and promised all help. Abhimanyu's mother Babita Devi expressed her displeasure over the police investigation. "Police officials are trying to add a new twist to the incident due to political pressure," she told The Telegraph over phone.

She alleged that the chief patron of the school, Ashok Singh, had criminal antecedents. Singh is among the 18 persons made named accused in the case lodged by Santosh Singh, uncle of the dead boy. Barring the Class VIII girl, all 17 other accused were still at large. The girl's hair and other belongings of the dead boy were sent to the forensic science laboratory for tests. "The FSL report is awaited," an investigating officer said.

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