The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: The Ryan International School murder case exposes the rot in investigation agencies

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Botching it up

Almost two months after a bus conductor was arrested on allegations of sexual assault and murder of a seven-year-old student of the Ryan International School in Gurugram, the sensational case that shook the education system took a dramatic twist on Wednesday. The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested a class 11 student of the same school with the accusation of murdering the child and has now let the bus conductor go.

Media reports state that the CBI has also ruled out sexual assault and has pointed to an alleged confession by the class 11 student. The details of the investigation throw up some shocking questions that point to lethargy and complete disdain for procedures on part of the investigation agencies.

Days after the murder in September, bus conductor Ashok Kumar was picked up by the Haryana police. Leaks to the media through the police said Kumar had confessed to the crime. The case was later transferred to the CBI, which on Wednesday produced the class 11 student in a court, alleging that a newly found closed-circuit television footage established that it was he who pushed the seven-year-old child Pradyuman into the toilet where the body was later recovered. The CBI is also learnt to have told the Juvenile Justice Board that the student has “confessed” to murdering the child, as per media reports.

The investigation clearly reeks of inefficiency and invokes the memory of past cases, such as the sensational Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj murder case of 2008. There seems to be a clear class bias in the manner in which the police go about their investigations. When the Aarushi Talwar murder first came to light, the police on the very first day decided that the Talwars’ domestic worker Hemraj was the clear suspect and launched a manhunt only to be shocked the day next to find his body on the terrace of the same house.

In the current case, the bus conductor was picked up within days, with the Haryana police even suggesting a sexual assault. Two months later, the man has been cleared of the murder charge, though the CBI states that he is still under investigation for crimes such as destroying evidence. The immediate question that arises is: Why would a person who did not commit the murder try to clean the murder scene?

The arrest of the class 11 student raises even more serious questions. Media reports on Wednesday said the CBI “interrogated” him several times in the last few days. Were the parents of the boy given any indication that he was being seen as a suspect? This is a crucial element because such information would help the parents seek legal support for their son. Interrogation by agencies such as the CBI could be intimidating even for an adult offender. It would obviously be more stressful for a minor. And to point to the so-called contradictions in the student’s statements obtained in such a scenario exposes the utter insensitivity of the CBI. The agency has also pointed to a trivial reason as possible motive. The class 11 student apparently wanted examinations postponed. Further, agencies often cite so-called confessions by the accused with scant regard for law, which does not admit such statements in a trial. In this case, the bus conductor has now alleged that the Haryana police forced him to sign a blank paper after arresting him in September.

Investigation agencies should realise that their responsibility is towards the criminal justice system. Rather than thoroughly building a case, these agencies often crumble under media pressure and act in haste to show progress in high-profile cases. This undermines the case and the very idea of justice.

The Big Scroll

  • Delhi schools must now get all their staff certified by police. Will it curb crime against children?  

Punditry

  1. In the Indian Express, historian Ramachandra Guha says the army chief should speak less in public. 
  2. Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue S Gurumurthy argues in The Hindu that demonetisation was a fundamental corrective to the economy, much like liberalisation of the 1990s.  
  3. In the New York Times, Thomal L Friedman writes on the ensuing chaos in the Saudi royal family. 

Giggles

Don’t miss

Mridula Chari reports on how Hindutva groups in MP targeted children heading to Mumbai for Bible study.

“The children started to cry, as the activists hustled them out of the train to the railway police office, where media persons, tipped off beforehand that there would be a scene, were waiting. In the skirmish, one of the older boys was struck on the legs. The police did not prevent the crowd from hurting them, he said.” 

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.