Gurgaon: The schoolbus conductor who was the first to be arrested in the murder of seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur at Gurgaon's Ryan International School in September, has alleged that he was tortured by the Haryana police, hung upside down, drugged to sleep when his screams wouldn't stop and even electrocuted until he repeated what they wanted him to say. He seems to have partially lost use of his legs.
Ashok Kumar was released on bail yesterday from a prison where he spent 72 days. His village raised Rs 50,000 needed for his release bond. He is not out of the woods yet; the CBI hasn't given him a clean chit.
"They forced me to confess... they beat me till I had to say yes to everything," the father of two told NDTV on the police arresting him on September 8, when Pradyuman, a Class 2 student, was found with his throat slit in a washroom.
"I can't even move my legs, back and neck, I don't know how I will feed my family," he wept.
Earlier this month, the CBI said Ashok Kumar may have been wrongly arrested and framed for a murder which, they say, was committed by Pradyuman's senior in the school. The CBI says the class 11 student, currently in a juvenile home, wanted desperately to delay his exams, and so planned a murder that would force a school holiday.
The investigators also suspected that the murder weapon -- a knife -- was planted on Ashok Kumar.
Recuperating in his home in Ghamroj village near Delhi, Ashok Kumar described a harrowing time after he picked up the blood-soaked boy on the day of the murder and took him to a car on the instruction of a teacher.
"They took me to the thana (police station) and kept beating me, hanged me upside down, strung me up with my hands and feet, until I passed out. They said if you do what we say, we will let you go," Ashok Kumar mumbled slowly.
He resisted for a long time, until he realised that the beatings were only becoming worse and relentless.
"I kept screaming. They injected me with drugs, then even used current (electrocuted). I passed out. Then I just kept saying yes to everything. I had no option."
A day after his release, Ashok Kumar sporadically cries out in pain and complains of chest burns and can't use his legs fully.
What worries him is that he doesn't have a job anymore, and may not find one easily.