Shimla - Four medical students who were convicted of ragging Aman Kachroo to death in a Himachal Pradesh college, are out of jail before completing the four-year rigorous imprisonment awarded to them.
"The government has tainted them forever," was the first reaction of Rajendar Kachroo, Aman's father, when he came to know of the quartet's release from prison.
"The boys had only a few more months to complete their regular sentence. By staying in jail they would have elevated themselves morally and made a contribution to the cause of eradication of ragging," he told IANS.
Medical student Aman Kachroo died of injuries suffered during ragging by the four drunk seniors in the Rajendra Prasad Medical College and Hospital in Tanda in Kangra district March 8, 2009.
Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma, all from the hill state, were held guilty Nov 11, 2010, for Aman's death.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Purinder Vaidya held them guilty of violating Sections 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint), 34 (common intent) and 342 (wrongful confinement) of the Indian Penal Code.
"Today I am disheartened not because the killers of my son have been let free, but the message that I am trying to convey to all students across the nation, that is, crime disguised as ragging will not be tolerated, has been undermined by the Himachal Pradesh government," Rajendar Kachroo said.
Kachroo is monitoring the National Ragging Prevention Programme on behalf of the University Grants Commission.
Rajendar Kachroo, who originally hails from Jammu and Kashmir but is now settled in Gurgaon near Delhi, said in a debate on a private member's bill last week in the Rajya Sabha on eradication of ragging, members of all parties urged the government to crack down on this practice.
"And here, we have the government of Himachal Pradesh conveying a completely different message. On the one hand, they have appealed to the honourable (Himachal Pradesh) High Court to enhance the sentence and on the other hand reduced the sentence themselves," he added.
"What a contradiction? I do not know is it a case of one arm of the government not knowing what the other arm is doing or there is more to it? I do not wish to speculate on that," he said.
Slamming the state government, Kachroo said: "This gesture of goodwill may go down well with some in Himachal Pradesh as evidence of a caring government but this will not be appreciated by the people of our nation."
"The state government may not be aware that 35 students have allegedly committed suicide across the country as a result of ragging since Aman died and two of these suicides happened in the last one month," said Kachroo, who started the Aman movement for eradication of ragging from the country.
On awarding of sentence after 20 months of trial, he said the entire nation thought that the sentence of four years was mild. "People urged me to appeal against the sentence (of the trial court) but I did not do so as I had promised that I will not protest against the judgment."
"The purpose of the trial, I thought, was not merely to punish the accused for the sake of punishment but to convey a message that would help preventing further incidences of ragging. For me, conveying the message was much more important than anything else," Kachroo, who moved the Supreme Court soon after his son's death for framing laws to eradicate ragging, said.
He added: "I only hope that they did it out of ignorance because there is no other justification for such an action (remitting their sentence)."