New Delhi: After two months in jail, bus conductor Ashok Kumar, who was initially accused of killing seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur, will walk free. The court gave him bail today - the Rs 50,000 surety was furnished by a neighbour who pledged his car.
But the release from jail does not mean the authorities consider Ashok Kumar innocent. The 35-year-old father of two has been asked to present himself before the Central Bureau of Investigation whenever they wish to question him.
<div id='ndtvrelcontent'></Last month, the agency had overturned the Gurgaon police's conclusion that Mr Kumar was guilty.
Contending that the police had cooked up evidence to frame Mr Kumar, the agency had not contested his bail. But despite its claim and the teen's arrest, the agency has not given a clean chit to Mr Kumar.
The agency has arrested a teenage student of Gurgaon's Ryan International School for the murder. But while the agency said the teen had admitted to killing Pradyuman to escape exams and a parent-teacher meeting, the investigators still do not have any clinching evidence against him. The boy's father said his son had been tortured.
Ashok Kumar's lawyer told NDTV that bail was granted since there was a lot of disparity between the findings of CBI and Haryana Police, and so the court gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The bus conductor was popular among the schoolchildren, parents had said. Even the father of the murdered boy had expressed doubts about the police claim that he had tried to sexually assault the boy and slit his throat when he resisted.
Ashok Kumar's neighbours, too, said the man could not be guilty, given his love for children. His family alleged that he had been tortured and forced to confess to a murder he didn't commit.
Today, as the court agreed to bail, Mr Kumar's 63-year-old father said, "I am just thankful he is free, we don't want any action, too poor to take on the powerful system".