Unable to cope with pressure, a class 12 boy in Ranchi set himself ablaze in the classroom on Monday and was hospitalized with 60% burn injuries.
The 18 year old, a science student at CBSE-affiliated Lala Lajpat Rai School had carried petrol in his school bag to the class on Monday. During a break, he poured it on his sweater and lit it with a matchstick. The school authorities came to his rescue, but by then more than half of his body was already burnt.
The incident highlighted once again the stress among students due to pressure of performing well in academics, making psychiatrists, educationists and activists question the competitive education structure in the country.
“I could not cope with the study pressure. So, I decided to end my life,” Ashutosh said. He is undergoing treatment at Devkamal Hospital in Ranchi.
Ashutosh is originally from Bihar’s Ara district and was staying with his aunt at Harmu Housing Colony in Ranchi. He aspired to become an engineer and was preparing to crack the IIT, his classmates said.
Mohammad Farukh, officer in-charge of concerned Pundag police station, said that the boy has not blamed anybody in his statement to the police.
“He (Ashutosh) had his physical education practical exams on Monday. The incident happened after the exam,” said Farukh.
School principal P.K. Thakur saved the student’s life with the help of curtains and burnt his hands in the process. He too underwent treatment for burn injuries.
“The incident is as horrifying for us as it is for the boy’s family. We will initiate an inquiry into the matter”, Thakur said.
He added that the school regularly held parents-teachers meetings and encouraged students to speak up about their stress.
Psychiatrists, however, do not see the possibilities of a psychological disorder behind the incident. They blame the education system for it.
“The fact that an 18-year-old tried to set himself on fire in his classroom says a lot about how the education system impacted him. He could have tried other ways to end his life, but why fire? It shows the extent of agony he was in,” said Dr Siddharth Sinha, senior resident, Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Sciences.