Amend IPC to make ragging a punishable offence: netizens
New Delhi (PTI): With the brutal death of young medical student Aman Kachroo shocking the nation, a movement is gradually gaining momentum in cyberspace to make ragging a punishable offence under Indian Penal Code.
An online petition hosted by stopragging.org, appealing to the Prime Minister to amend the IPC to make ragging an offence, has received nearly 200 signatures within three days of its opening, with outraged netizens slamming the so-called "tradition" of harassing and assaulting freshers.
The Supreme Court has clearly laid down directives to launch criminal prosecution in cases of ragging, but the IPC does not have a separate section specifying it as an offence.
Kachroo, a 19-year-old first-year medical student from Gurgaon, died allegedly due to severe thrashing during ragging by his seniors at a government medical college in Tanda in Himachal Pradesh on March 8.
"While this is a murder case, matters would not have reached this level had Aman been able to use an anti-ragging law to approach the police," the petition argued. It also demanded that all the 50 recommendations of the R K Raghavan Committee on ragging should be seriously looked into by the Central government.
The organisers say they will collect signatures till May 7 before posting the letter.
Several communities have also come up in social networking site Facebook demanding justice for Aman while tributes for the vivacious teenager and demands to stop the practice of ragging are pouring into various blog sites.
"This senseless act of brutality, carried out in the name of relationship building with freshers, has to be stopped at once and in its all forms," a post at stopragging.org says.
"This is the stupidest 'tradition' if you will," feels a netizen while another says "this happened because we tend to brush issues under the carpet."
While the Aman case has hit the headlines, many other similar incidents go unreported every year or receive very little media attention, says Harsh Aggarwal from the anti-ragging group Coalition to Uproot Ragging (CURE).
According to CURE, which compiles yearly records of ragging incidents reported in English-language media, there were 11 deaths or suicides due to ragging and another five attempted suicides between July 2007 and June 2008.
"When we made a detailed analysis, we were shocked to find that 89 cases of severe ragging were reported in this period, almost double of the five-year average of 46 cases," Mr. Aggarwal, a former consultant to Raghavan Committee, says. Maintaining anonymity of the complainant, sensitising the media and society are the key, he feels, but is sceptic about how deterrent the provision of criminal prosecution will be.
"A fresher will be extremely fearful to use the provision of FIR and get involved in a court case. Gathering evidence has also been always very difficult," he says.