Shimla: The four youths who were convicted of ragging medical student Aman Kachroo to death in a Himachal Pradesh institute are out of the jail before completing the four-year rigorous imprisonment awarded to them.
Their release three days ago was facilitated because of an apparent U-turn by the state government.
The decision to release them - Aman`s seniors at the medical isntitute - came even while the government`s petition for enhancement of their sentence was pending before the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
The seven-month waiver to the convicts has led to protests by sympathisers of Aman, who died March 8, 2009, after he was ragged by four drunk seniors.
The decision drew sharp reaction from Aman`s father, Rajendar Kachroo, who termed the release a fatal blow to the nation`s fight against ragging.
"I`m sorry for the ignorance of the Himachal Pradesh government for they do not see that ragging is a serious issue in our country," Kachroo said on Saturday.
"When the entire nation is trying to crack down on ragging, the state government has chosen to go against the will of the entire nation. These students got mild sentences any way. Then what was the hurry for pardoning their sentence?" he said.
"Another few months would not have done them any harm but it has harmed the effort of the rest of the country to crack down on this evil practice."
Ajay Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma of Rajendra Prasad Medical College and Hospital in Tanda town of Kangra district, were held guilty November 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.
Justifying their release, Director General of Police ID Bhandari said: "The four convicts were released August 15 as per the jail manual."
"No special concession was given to the four convicts while waiving their sentences. It is a normal process. They were released for good conduct in the jail. They didn`t avail of any parole," he said.
But a shattered Rajender Kachroo said: "It is a shame (to remit their sentences)".
"There is an appeal of the state pending in the high court for enhancement of the sentence, which was never heard by the honourable court so far. Now, it has become clear as to why the honourable high court did not hear this appeal. I do not have to add anything more on this. It is obvious -- why?" he said over the phone from New Delhi.
"I want to appeal to the entire nation to condemn the decision of the Himachal Pradesh government," Kachroo said.
A senior government counsel said the state moved the High Court against the lower court`s verdict on two counts.
First, Aman was brutally beaten under the garb of ragging by his seniors, but tried and punished under Section 304 II for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and not under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code on the charge of murder, which should have been applied.
Second, the trial court had shown leniency while pronouncing the quantum of punishment, the counsel added.
Almost a year and a half have passed since the four students were convicted. But so far, neither has the state`s appeal for enhancing the sentence nor has the appeal of the convicts against the verdict made any headway in the High Court.
At least six judges of the High Court have recused themselves from hearing the case that at one point of time shook the country.
Kachroo said that since Aman`s death, 35 students have committed suicide across the country due to ragging -- two in the last one month.