Published: 27th February 2023
WhatTheFAQ: Warangal Medico succumbs. Ragging rears its ugly head in Telangana again
The student had been undergoing treatment in Hyderabad after she allegedly attempted to die by suicide; the family alleges harassment by senior
In a tragic incident, a first-year PG medical student of the Kakatiya Medical College (KMC) Warangal, passed away, five days after she allegedly attempted to die by suicide.
According to allegations made by her family and friends, Dr Dharawath Preethi was being harassed by her senior, Dr MA Saif, a second-year PG medical student in the same college. Dr Saif had allegedly been harassing Dr Preethi since November 2022.
Last week, Dr Saif was arrested in connection with Dr Preethi's attempted suicide. Tension has prevailed at KMC Warangal, with Dr Preethi's friends demanding justice.
Dr Preethi's death raises questions about the prevalence of ragging and harassment at college campuses in Telangana, and in other parts of the country. This month has already borne witness to two such cases of death by suicide of students who allegedly faced harassment from seniors and fellow students within the college. Darshan Solanki, a first-year student at IIT Bombay passed away this month, and caste-based harassment on campus is being alleged by his friends and family.
What happened in Dr Preethi's case?
On February 22, Dr Preethi, a first-year student of the Anesthesia department at the Kakatiya Medical College in Warangal injected herself with a harmful substance in an alleged attempt to take her own life. The incident occurred at MGM Hospital while she was on duty. She suffered from multiple organ failure and was taken to the Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad, for treatment. Dr Preethi's family and friends accused her senior Dr Saif of constantly harassing her since November 2022, and claimed that Dr Preethi took the extreme step because of the harassment. On February 27, Dr Preethi passed away at NIMS, with the hospital stating that she "could not be saved despite continuous efforts by a multidisciplinary team of specialist doctors." Protests have been ongoing at KMC Warangal, with her friends demanding justice. Friends and family members of the student also staged protests at NIMS, demanding justice, with her father stating that they will "hold on to her body" until they "get answers," as per reports.
What action have the authorities taken since the incident?
Following accusations of harassment, the police arrested Dr Saif and charged him under sections pertaining to ragging, abetment of suicide and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As per reports, Dr Saif has claimed that he was only "disciplining" the junior doctor and that such interactions were "commonplace" between seniors and juniors in the field. A statement by the Telangana Junior Doctors Association has also asked for charges against Dr Saif to be dropped on the same premise. Since her death, the state government has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh. Dr Preethi's father has demanded a judicial enquiry into the matter.
What provisions do colleges in Telangana have in place to prevent ragging and harassment?
The Andhra Pradesh Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1997 which was adopted in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, lays down the penalties for ragging in educational institutions in the two states. As per the Act, ragging is defined as "teasing, embarrassing or humiliating a student," or criminal assault or intimidation or wrongful restrain or confinement, or causing "grievous hurt" or kidnapping, abduction, rape, or committing unnatural offences, or abetment of suicide. As per the Act, abetment of suicide is punishable by imprisonment for life or a term of up to ten years and with a fine of up to fifty thousand rupees. A student convicted of ragging, and punished with imprisonment, shall also be dismissed from the educational institution. If the student is convicted and imprisoned for more than six months, they are barred from taking admission to any other educational institution as well. The Act also directs educational institutions to conduct prompt and fair enquiries into any complaints of ragging from students.
Cases of death by suicide due to ragging and harassment in Telangana...
Today, after the death of Dr Preethi, another death by suicide in a suspected case of ragging came to light from an engineering college in the Warangal district. In November, five students at IIIT Basara were booked for ragging juniors. Also in November, a student of ICFAI, Hyderabad was assaulted and forced to chant slogans by his seniors. In January this year, the son of Telangana BJP Chief, Bandi Sanjay was caught on video assaulting his batchmate. A case was filed against the accused based on a complaint by the college.