Kachru ragging death: Guilty get four years’ rigorous imprisonment (Roundup)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DHARAMSALA - Over a year and a half after medical student Aman Kachru died of injuries suffered during ragging, a court here Thursday held his four seniors guilty and sentenced them to four years’ rigorous imprisonment for culpable homicide, not amounting to murder.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Purinder Vaidya also imposed a fine of Rs.10,000 each on the four students of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College and Hospital in Tanda in Kangra district.

Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma were held guilty under Sections 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 34 (common intention) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code.

Aman, 19, who did his schooling from DPS International in New Delhi and was in the college since 2007, died March 8 last year after he was ragged by the four drunk seniors.

After the pronouncement of punishment, Aman’s father Rajendra Kachru said: “It’s a historic decision favouring the anti-ragging campaign. I am a little bit disappointed with the quantum of punishment. It’s for the prosecution to decide whether to go in for an appeal in the higher court or not.”

“This is their decision. If they want to file an appeal, they can demand increase in the sentence,” he added.

Rajendra Kachru said if he had not fought against the bail granted to the accused earlier this year, “I would not have seen this verdict today”.

Earlier in the day, the court had held the students guilty of ragging Aman to death.

The prosecution was demanding higher punishment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code on charges of murder.

The prosecution pleaded that Aman was brutally beaten under the garb of ragging by his seniors and they should be convicted for murder.

“I will recommend to the government to move the high court against both decisions of the court - one of convicting the students under culpable homicide and not under charges of murder, and second showing leniency while pronouncing the quantum of punishment,” Special Public Prosecutor Jiwan Lal Sharma told IANS.

A day earlier, Rajendra Kachru, who is based in Gurgaon, had sent an email to the media stating: “Prevention, not punishment, should be the purpose of criminal justice. Punishment should be looked upon as part of prevention rather than as an ‘emotional compensation’ or ‘an eye for an eye’.”

He said Aman had in his last note written that “ragging must be stopped”. The campaign for justice for Aman will be over when his wish will be fulfilled, he added.

The court had framed charges against the accused Aug 13, 2009, and reserved its verdict after hearing the arguments of the prosecution and defence Oct 30 this year. During the trial, the court recorded the statements of 38 witnesses, comprising doctors, police personnel and Rajendra Kachru.

Appearing in the court for the first time in the case Aug 28 this year, Rajendra Kachru said his son spoke to him in detail about the incident of ragging that took place March 6, 2009.

“Aman even told me that he had given in writing a complaint to college authorities regarding the (ragging) incident. Three to four hours after I got the phone call from Aman, somebody informed me on telephone from the college that he had passed away,” Kachru said.

The court also re-examined two doctors - Harjeet Pal Singh of the ENT (ear, nose and throat) department, and D.P. Swami, associate professor of forensic medicine department of the hospital. While Singh had examined Aman’s ears a few hours after the ragging incident, Swami conducted the post-mortem examination.

The autopsy report confirmed the cause of death as neurogenic shock due to ante-mortem head injury-sub-arachnoid haemorrhage.

A Supreme Court-appointed committee had also visited the college and found rampant alcoholism on the campus and lack of anti-ragging norms as the reason behind Aman’s death.

The committee had recommended action against then college principal Suresh Sankhyan, who resigned from the post after the incident and was compulsorily retired by the government last month, just a day before he was to officially retire Oct 31.

“Aman collapsed and died due to injuries which the post-mortem report has linked to the incident of ragging,” said a magisterial inquiry by the state government, holding Sankhyan responsible for the lapses.

The court Aug 2, 2010, resumed the trial against the accused students after they surrendered on cancellation of their bail by the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

After Aman’s death, the state government passed an anti-ragging legislation, making ragging a cognisable, non-bailable offence.

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