Written by Simrat Pal Singh Satia, Batch of 2019
Disclaimer-The following is writer’s personal reckoning on the issue. Kindly have an open mind while reading his opinion.
On August 10, 2016, a third year student, named Sushant Rohilla, of Amity Law School, Delhi took his life. A bright young student, who was jovial, proactive and inspired several students of his college, committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling fan. No, he wasn’t demented or crazy. No, he wasn’t mentally impaired. While most people see it as a suicide, some view it as a cold-blooded murder, at the hands of the ALSD administration itself.
Before coming to the big question of why he took such a harsh decision and how it concerns the student fraternity, let me tell you something about Sushant Rohilla. He was the president of the debating society, successfully organized 3 editions of moot court competitions and even mentored a team of juniors for USLLS moot court competitions. So in short, he was the star student of his college, one who was revered and admired by everyone around him. But what he failed to achieve was 75% physical attendance in his class, because of which he was debarred from writing his examinations and ergo, was forced to drop an year.
He sent an email to the Chairman of his college pleading, in fact begging for reconsideration . “Sir, this will destroy my life, I have been anything but a student to this college since day one.” Did the authorities have the courtesy of gracing him with a reply? NO. The poor soul had fractured his foot in an accident and still tried his best to go to college with the assistance of a walking stick and whilst being in such a condition, he won the position of Runner-Up in a moot competition. So, I believe we have established a simple fact that he worked for the betterment of college and brought several accolades for it. But the authorities were too apathetic to even reconsider his case. He had a physical attendance of 29%, which extended to 43% after incorporating the academic leave, but it was still a far cry from the requisite 75%.
Quite frankly, I would have agreed with the authorities on this one. I felt that it was just on college’s part, since they can’t bend their rules for anyone and Sushant should have expected his name in the detention list sooner or later. But what is infuriating is the fact that the strict attendance norms were actually relaxed for those who participated in the Miss India competition. What is highly outrageous is that one kid became the victim of this arbitrary attendance criteria, which completely obliterated his career and forced him to take his life, the same criteria from which some were exempted. His unwavering loyalty towards his college did him no good at the end of the day. His family claims that in May, he was assured by teachers that he would be allowed to write the examinations but in July, he suddenly received a mail stating that he was detained for an entire year. The arbitrariness in policies is what costed a student his life. This is what I deem unacceptable.
Both ALSD and GGSIPU have been playing the blame game, with no one taking the responsibility of the mishappening. The protesters demanded the resignation of Director BP Sehgal and Prof. Isheeta Rutabhasini for harassing students and their inability to prevent the incident, which they did on 19th August, 2016. Educational institutions are designed not just to help us become academically strong but also strengthen us morally, a simple fact that seems to have been long forgotten.
The only reason I’m bring this issue up is because similar could have been the fate of an NSITian in the recent detention fiasco that occurred in the previous semester. Playing with the lives of students in such a cruel and callous manner and then, failure to address their queries leaves nothing but mental agony and torture, the consequence of which we’ve witnessed. Our administration, too, has detained several students arbitrarily and then issued and reissued new lists with multiple errors, exhibiting their apathy towards the plight of students.While the administration quite easily detained so many students, those sitting for placements and internships are having the hardest times of their life.
Students who worked for Moksha, brought several accolades to the college or even had genuine medical grounds for their inability to attend classes fell prey to the hands of the system, and their incessant requests fell on deaf ears. It wouldn’t have been a big surprise if our college had witnessed a Sushant Rohilla, eking out his last few words in a suicide note. I’m hugely relieved that no one took such a harsh step, but what vexes me is that the conditions were no less to provoke such an extreme situation.
Teachers also play a pivotal role in shaping a student’s life and hence, shouldn’t restrict themselves to just teaching the subject (which I’m sorry to say, some fail to do by never seeing showing up in the classroom during the entire semester and somehow, still detaining students), but instill confidence in a student, instead of condemning him for trying to be a free bird.
Take the example of Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani with 0% attendance requirements and yet students of that institute are doing fairly well. The authorities believe that students are old enough to decide which classes they deem worthy of their time. By citing this example, I don’t intend to promote such norms because surely, everything has its own pros and cons (though personally, I’m in favor of it), but at least the arbitrariness in a policy such as attendance criteria, which is of great significance, has been completely removed.
And even though I would never condone Sushant Rohilla for making such a move, I’m afraid I’m in no position to say whether it was a doltish or an impulsive step as I’ve never been in his shoes. All I know is that he is dead. And he could have been alive, standing in our midst, had there been a positive response from his college. These are the indisputable facts of the case.
Even if the policies are changed now, justice is served, the real culprits behind Sushant’s death are punished, would he rise from his grave to witness this change? Do you think that the cost of an innocent life is justified to wake us up from our slumber and make us do the needful?
I’d like to conclude with a simple scientific experiment conducted a long time ago:
A BOILING FROG EXPERIMENT
The premise of the experiment is that if a frog is put suddenly in a bowl of boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is put in cold water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.
Moral? JUMP OUT OF THE BOWL. STOP ADJUSTING TO THE SYSTEM. FIGHT IT before you find yourself hanged to the ceiling fan, succumbing to the injustice, eking out the last words in a suicide note.