Monday, October 2, 2023

Learning to Kill

The murder and suicide case in the Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida involving a girl and her male classmate she was in a relationship with has revealed how easy it is for a student to obtain a weapon and how easy it is for a normal relationship to quickly turn into a tragedy.

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On May 18, this year, Anuj Singh, a student at Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, shot dead his classmate Sneha Chaurasia. He then committed suicide by shooting himself. The girl was from Kanpur while the boy was from Amroha. Both were studying in BA Sociology, third year.

The Dadri police have filed a case of murder against Anuj, the university administration and university employees Ashutosh Pandey, Karan and Anshu based on the written complaint lodged by Sneha’s father, Raj Kumar Chaurasia. All of them have been charged under Sections 302, 354(d), 120B of IPC. Earlier, a case was also registered against Anuj under the Arms Act.

Chaurasia said he had received an email from his daughter. On March 14, 2023, his daughter had complained to the university administration through email that Anuj had attacked her four times in two months. There were also marks of assault on her body. Even after two months of the complaint, the university administration did not take any concrete action nor did it inform the police and family members.

Sneha had written that she was friends with classmate Anuj for two years, but due to some internal dispute, she had broken the relationship. However, Anuj was not ready to accept this and was continuously harassing her. She also wrote that this was the fourth time that Anuj had attacked her in a span of two months. She complained that Anuj had strangled her and she had fainted. She was mentally disturbed, but did not want to inform her family about the unseemly developments. She also mentioned in her email that Anuj has her family’s phone numbers and was harassing her by contacting her family members. She had demanded that the university administration take some concrete action in this regard.

In his complaint lodged with the police, Sneha’s father said that Anuj was harassing his daughter for several days and was pressurizing her for immoral acts. Her daughter had complained about this to the university administration, but no suitable action was taken. Anuj eventually murdered Sneha. The CCTV footage of the incident and a video of Anuj are going viral in which university employees Ashutosh Pandey, Karan and Anshu of Kanpur have been mentioned. This shows that the victim was murdered under a conspiracy. He said that this could be one of the reasons why the university administration did not take any effective action.

Sneha had even written in an e-mail to the university management that Anuj had openly threatened to kill her. She mentioned in the very beginning of the mail that she was complaining on the basis of her conversation with him. Surprisingly, the university administration did not take seriously the complaint of death threats given by Anuj to Sneha.

The university gave its clarification on the registration of the case after seven days. According to the spokesperson of the university, Sneha had indeed complained to the university administration. However, when a formal complaint was sought from her, she refused to take action against Anuj. She also apprehended that Anuj’s family could take major steps on this action.

The university administration further said that action was taken from time to time. Sneha was also asked to lodge a complaint after Anuj allegedly forcibly opened her laptop, but she didn’t do that. Counselling was also done from time to time, the varsity said.

Safety of girls is a top priority at every college campus. Nowadays, a safe and supportive campus environment is both an obligation and a challenge for college administration and students. Institutes should provide a comprehensive range of security amenities, especially for girls, within the premises through a dedicated team of security personnel. It is a common phenomenon that most of the outstation students enrolled in different courses at varsities in India come out of their homes and cities for the first time. It is therefore of utmost importance for institutions to provide them a comfortable and safe ambience of “feel at home” within the campuses. The lack of safety for women on India’s streets can also be seen in varsity campuses, which fail to become inclusive and safe spaces, not just for students, but also for teachers and staff members.

It is unfortunate that such instances are highlighted only when survivors come out in the open with their experiences. In September 26, 2012, in Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, unable to bear continuous teasing by her six male classmates at a coaching centre where she was studying, linking her romantically with another male student, a woman committed suicide by setting herself ablaze. According to the police, the woman graduate, who was undergoing training for the Group 2 Examination of the Tamil Nadu Public Service, had discontinued her studies, unable to bear the remarks. However, the men continued to taunt her even near her house, forcing her to take the extreme step, according to the police. In her statement to the judicial magistrate before her death, the woman had said that they had hurt her badly with their remarks and the use of abusive language.

In February 2021, in what is being suspected to be a case of a love triangle, a Bundelkhand college student shot at another inside a classroom, injuring him critically, and then killed a female student at her house. Both the victims and the accused (Manthan Singh Sengar) were final year post-graduate students, the police said. While the woman, Kritika Tripathi, was fatally shot at her house, Hukum Chand Gurjar sustained a bullet wound at the back of his head. Before opening fire at Gurjar inside the classroom, Sengar had drawn a heart on the blackboard and wrote: “Manthan Finish” on it, the police said, adding that it might be a case of a love triangle.

In February 7, 2018, a class X student was found dead with grievous injuries inside his school in Maharashtra’s Solapur district. As per preliminary investigation, the accused-duo had objected to the student staring at a girl in his class and attacked him with a sickle. The duo—one of them a juvenile and another a 20-year-old—allegedly attacked the 16-year-old near the computer room of the school ahead of practical tests for class X. The 16-year-old was attacked with a sickle. He was rushed to a hospital by school authorities where he was declared brought dead. The officer said a scuffle had broken out between the duo and the 16-year-old after they accused him of staring at a girl in the class, before the fatal attack. An offence of murder was registered against the duo.

Recently, a 15-year-old girl of Class X died at Sunbeam School in Ayodhya after allegedly falling from the terrace of her school. The family of the girl has alleged that she was called to the school by the principal despite the premises being shut for summer vacations and raped by two staff members—games teacher Abhishek Kannaujia and school manager Brijesh Yadav.

The police have registered a case against Yadav, principal Rashmi Bhatia and Kannaujia under Sections 376D (gangrape), 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The school management initially told the police that the girl died after falling from a swing. However, when police scanned the CCTV footage, they found that the girl had fallen from the terrace of the school building. In his complaint, the victim’s father said that even after the school was closed for summer vacation, her daughter was called to the school by the principal. The father also alleged that after she reached the school, Yadav and Kannaujia gangraped her and to hide the crime, they threw her from the terrace of the school.

In the preliminary investigation, the police found that the school administration tried to mislead them regarding the incident and also cleaned the traces of blood from the place where the student had fallen. Taking note of the incident, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officials to take strict action against those involved.

—By Adarsh Kumar and India Legal Bureau

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