Outrage over the death of a child in school can sometimes yield little results. Since 2015, the parents of S. Rahul have, despite their attempts, not seen any hint of justice though there are enough lines of inquiry the investigators could have pursued.
The family twice approached the Allahabad High Court to transfer the probe to the CBI. For, while the authorities had assumed it to be a suicide, there is sufficient evidence to believe there was foul play. The parents had also commissioned an independent forensic examination of available scientific data. Despite this, the police had tried to shut down the probe, but it was reopened by the lower court that was monitoring the case of the child’s unnatural death.
On April 10, 2015, the first day of the academic session and the last day of his life, Rahul left for school and arrived at the La Martiniere in Lucknow, where he was studying in Class 9, around 7 am. Other students reportedly testified to the police that they saw him at the morning assembly, which was at 7.20 am. The police are yet to reconstruct where he was between then and 11.40 am, when somebody discovered his unconscious body, lying on his side, on the ground below a monument within the school premises.
The principal of the school had reportedly claimed to have “discovered” a supposed suicide note that said “Rahul Sridhar suicide by jumping off a building at 10.30 pm” and declared that it was a case of suicide, attributing it to unrequited love and the influence of the fictional manga series Death Note. While the Lucknow Police claim that the handwriting tested positive, the parents wonder why it said “pm” if the death was in the morning. “Why refer to himself in the third person? His English was quite good and that is what the school is known for.”
Was the principal looking for clues instead of rushing him to hospital? Stranger still, a school orderly was seen (videotaped by the media) burning a bloodstained sheet in the presence of the police, which the orderly later attributed to a direction from the school authorities. And, there had been very little blood at the spot where Rahul fell. The private forensic expert opined that the injuries on Rahul’s body were not consistent with the theory that it was a suicide attempt by jumping off the building.
Many of the statements that actually hinted at foul play have, unfortunately enough, not been made before a magistrate. The probe itself has been handled by the house officer of the local police station, which is already an overworked posting, leaving little time to investigate a possible murder. After the reinvestigation was ordered in January this year, the police have managed to only send blood samples from the compromised crime scene to the forensic labs for testing. The clothes that Rahul wore were destroyed and never tested for any forensic discoveries.
Rahul’s parents fear that there may be a cover-up to protect the reputation of the school, where the children of several VIPs study, including the then CM’s son. Far from grieving the death, the parents have had to become amateur detectives in their search for justice.