Even though the Supreme Court has passed a series of strictures against ragging and termed it as a human rights violation, it still is considered by many as something of a rite of passage. It isn’t. If there were any doubts about ragging being much more dark and sinister than being just a ‘boys will be boys’ pastime, the pointless death of a 19-year-old has driven home the message that ragging requires zero-tolerance. Medical student Aman Satya Kachru was killed inside the premises of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Himachal Pradesh on March 8. Kachru, a first-year-student, died after four seniors reportedly ragged him and 13 other batchmates. The provisional autopsy report confirmed that Kachru died due to brain haemorrhage. The four accused have now been arrested and the college principal has resigned taking moral responsibility.
Before he was taken to the hospital, Kachru along with 13 other students had filed a complaint to the college authorities against their seniors. Knowing how seriously everyone — college authorities, the law and even parents — treats ragging, we severely doubt whether any deterring punishment was meted out to the culprits.
The incident proves that the Supreme Court’s directives are still being flouted. Most colleges brush such incidents under the carpet. They are afraid of their reputation becoming tainted. Or worse, they just don’t consider it as being anything beyond some ‘harmless’ initiation ceremony. Action against such colleges must be harsh. If they are public or semi-public bodies, their financial grants should be severed and the person-in-charge must be held guilty for apathetic behaviour. It is impossible to believe that the authorities at Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College were unaware of what Kachru was being made to suffer, considering that his hostel had a warden and a hostel manager. Kachru’s parents say that he complained of merciless ragging from the time he entered college. But nothing was done. The parents should have gone to the police when the first round of abuse took place.
The law should treat the four accused as criminals and their student status should not come in the way of a stiff sentence. The Additional Solicitor General has rightly talked about speedy justice in the case. It should be swift. But above all, it should be visible, so that ragging is seen for what it is: an illegal act for which the punishment is stiff.