On 8 March last year, Aman Kachroo was lynched to death in a college hostel in Himachal Pradesh. It was just another case of ragging. It happened nearly eight years after the Supreme Court of India banned ragging in May 2001. In fact, since May 2001, there has been at least one ragging death every other month, as reported by the English language media. You can imagine how many cases are hushed up, blamed on academic pressure and ‘depression’, and never investigated. We are also not going into the much larger number of cases of attempted suicides, drop-outs, and not even measuring the psychological impact on freshers.
In 2001, the Supreme Court’s orders said that an educational institution that is unable to control ragging would face grant cuts or even disaffiliation by affiliating bodies such as the UGC, AICTE, Medical Council of India and a host of others. Not one of them ever found any college unable to control ragging. Their bureaucrats issued circulars and thought their signatures on the circulars were good enough. Years later, some of them told the Supreme Court that they did not have the powers to act against institutions – even though a Supreme Court order had empowered them to do so!
Such matters clearly concern your colleague Kapil Sibal, so why am I writing to you? We shall come to that, just let me tell you what happened thereafter. Continue reading Point Forty Five→
There have been so many ragging incidents coming out in the news, but the media is done with ragging and there’s no hype beyond the singular news report. It would be a mistake to presume that there’s been a spurt in ragging incidents; the spurt has instead been in the reporting of incidents, in punishment and implementation of the law.
A student in Howrah was subjected to the things mentioned in the headline of this post, but it became a news story when the fresher tried to commit sucide by consuming poison. So the headline in the Times of India goes, “Howrah student attempts suicide after ragging“. A reader flipping through news reports could well think, another loser, another victim, another case. The attention is not on the victimiser, the perpetrator.
On Friday, Nayan was waiting at Uluberia station to catch a train home when four seniors grabbed him and took him to a house in the locality, says his uncle. Once inside, the door was barred and the torture began. Nayan was beaten and forced to smoke a cigarette. Then an unknown drug was forced down his throat. When he lay delirious, his wrists were slashed with a razor. Then, one of the seniors asked another to fetch an empty syringe, the FIR says. As Nayan desperately struggled, he was held down and air injected into his left hand.
Surely, the FIR named the four seniors? Why could they not be named in this news report?
The Times report also misses the point, mentioned in the Telegraph report, that the wrist slashing happened because Nayan Adak refused to obey orders to undress and dance. Ragging always does boil down to the fresher’s body, doesn’t it? The Telegraph and Express reports don’t mention names of the four accused either.
Aman Kachroo is not the first teen to die of ragging. But there is one curious first: this time the death has not led to any ‘public debate’.
This time the defenders of ragging are silent. Who knows, maybe some of them have changed their views and are now lighting candles at Jantar Mantar. There are no TV debates calling ragging fun. This time no one is arguing that a murder case should not be used to defame the socially productive ‘tradition’ of ragging. This time nobody is asking how boys will become men unless they are ragged, and nobody is calling the victims sissies.
Before he died of brain haemorrhage (and not cardiac arrest as the papers incorrectly claimed), Aman Satya Kachroo wrote a note about who beat him up. In the note he named the four accused who are all now in jail. The note reads like a dying declaration and is signed by 12 witnesses. It seems unlikely that even one of the 12 witnesses will have the courage to say in court that they saw the lynching happening before their eyes. Even as they came down to Gurgaon for the cremation, they must have been getting calls from their parents, ‘Beta, just say you didn’t see anything. Why get into these court hassles and potential threats from the families of the accused?’ Continue reading And then Suresh Sankhyan wanted to do the post-mortem→
Update: Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, who is I think the amicus curae in the ongoing case, says he will ask the Supreme Court to take note of the case and charge the Principal and Vice-Chancellor with “contempt, inaction, negligence and failure.” But who will charge whom for lack of implementation of the SC orders on ragging?And Himachal Pradesh has an anti-ragging ordinance too. (The ordinance had expired in 1998 1992, I gather, as it had not been turned into a law within six months)