The death of 19-year-old medical college student Aman Satya Kachroo is turning into a rallying point for outraged Indians, much in the same way that the Jessica Lall murder was.
Kachroo’s death from merciless beating, followed closely by a suicide bid by a girl student in Andhra Pradesh who was asked to dance naked, has led to eruptions of anger — on the Net, on the streets. Criminal ragging, which has been claiming individual victims for years, is now a big issue.
Facebook has seven groups protesting against Aman’s death. ‘Justice for Aman Kachroo’ has over 2,000 members. ‘Aman Kachroo’s Cause’ has over 1,000. “Aman was murdered in cold blood,” writes Rohit Dhar. “Ragging should be declared as a crime amounting to culpable homicide,” declares Manejeh Yaqub, while Sahil Kataria feels it should be dealt with so severely that “no one should even dare to even think of it”. Yesterday, a crowd gathered at Jantar Mantar for a candlelight vigil for Aman.
Recalling extreme cases of ragging — otherwise a time-honoured tradition of breaking the ice between seniors and first-year greenhorns — Dr Sunil Mittal, director of the Delhi Psychiatry Centre, says, “I saw a person from a Maharashtra institute who had a breakdown after being stripped and told to masturbate.” His daughter, who is in the same college as Aman, doesn’t want to return to campus. “It’s like post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Ragging is usually worst, often sexually degrading, in engineering and medical colleges. “In our hostel, two seniors made three juniors strip naked, then put oil and toothpaste over their body,” recounts Harish Trivedi (name changed), a student from a technical college in Ghaziabad. “No one complained — they knew they’d be killed or hurt badly.”