Two months on, parents demand answers for daughter’s death at Bengaluru preschool

The child’s father told TNM that the principal of the preschool misled doctors about the cause of the child’s injuries.
4-year-old Gianna Ann
4-year-old Gianna Ann
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Jito Tomy Joseph received a distressing phone call on January 22 informing him that his four-year-old daughter Gianna Ann was vomiting after allegedly hitting her head against a wall in the school premises. However, upon arriving at the Delhi Preschool in Bengaluru, he discovered that she had fallen from the school building’s terrace, sustaining severe injuries.

Gianna was rushed to a hospital but tragically succumbed to her injuries on January 25, and on the same day, the school principal went absconding. Following a complaint from Jito, the police initially charged principal of the Delhi Preschool Thomas Cherian and staff with causing grievous hurt to the child but later altered the charges to negligence leading to death. Now, almost two months after the devastating incident, Jito and his family continue to demand justice for their child.

“The principal misled every doctor at the hospital by claiming that Gianna had hit her head on a wall and vomited. Despite medical professionals indicating that her injuries suggested a fall from a significant height of at least 20 feet, the school staff maintained their version of events,” Jito told TNM.

The principal had assured the family that he would examine the school’s CCTV footage for any suspicious activity. With eight CCTVs installed on campus, Jito and his family expected some communication from the school. However, nobody reached out to them. 

 Jito recounted the family’s arrival in Bengaluru on January 13, following a Christmas vacation in Kerala, where they hail from. Gianna was the younger of their two children, and he said that they needed a caretaker to help with the kids amidst their work commitments. “I had a conversation with the preschool principal, who coincidentally shared our Malayali background. He then recommended a caretaker who also worked at the preschool,” Jito explained.

The family then decided to hire the caretaker to look after their children. However, shortly after that, they became concerned about hygiene issues and ultimately dismissed her from her duties. Jito wants the police to investigate the caretaker for Gianna’s death.

“To my shock, at noon the same day we received a message in the school’s WhatsApp group chat telling us about homework. Everything was going on as normal in the school. There was no mention of what had happened to my daughter,” Jito further said.

Gianna was cremated on January 27 and on the same day, the principal secured bail from the court since he was only charged with bailable offences. According to Jito, the forensic report in the case hasn’t been submitted yet. “I am checking with the inspector once every week for an update. They say that they can only take more action after receiving the forensic report,” he said.

The police told TNM that the investigation is ongoing. “We have already questioned the caretakers at the school, but we can’t add the family’s allegations about the caretaker to the chargesheet,” the police clarified. 

After Gianna’s death, the family moved back to Kerala. Amidst their anguish and frustration, Gianna's parents have taken to social media, launching a campaign titled ‘Justice for Gianna’ on Instagram and Facebook. “Our lives have been turned upside down with the loss of our daughter, it’s not going to be the same anymore,” Jito said.

“All we ask is justice for her and nothing else,” he added.

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