This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rabindra Kumar Mitra. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Ryan School Murder: Who Is The Real Culprit – The Class 11 Student, Parents Or Society?

When Mother Teresa said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty”, she certainly wasn’t referring to the plight of the innumerable youngsters in the fast-paced, digital universe of the 21st century, but it seems to be an eerily self-fulfilling prophecy.

The murder of a young boy, studying in class 2, horrified the nation. Fast-forward to a shoddy investigation, followed by the CBI taking over. What came out was more shocking – the culprit was a class 11 student! Moreover, the gruesome crime was not out of childish anger or retribution, but done merely to postpone an exam and thereby avoid a parent-teacher meeting!

This raises a few fundamental questions.

Firstly, how tyrannical have the schools become, that students are willing to adopt such extreme measures to avoid academic failure? Stories of teenagers taking their lives, unable to cope with academic pressure, have become an everyday incident. I avoid the recounting of such tales, since I believe a simple Google search regarding the same would suffice.

Secondly, who is the real culprit? The teenager? Parents? Society? Or do we blame the overall circumstances that lead a person to such a harrowing psychological state, where he thinks that taking the life of another human being is ok?

The juvenile in question came from a broken family. The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) report finds him to be witness to regular fights between his parents. His psychological test reports an average IQ with little interest in studies, which JJB attributed to the “hostile atmosphere at home”.  But, what is most interesting is the conflicting accounts of his teachers and neighbours.

While his teachers label him “highly aggressive” and “short-tempered” with a habit of picking fights on trivial issues, his neighbours, on the other hand, vouched that he was a “peaceful and calm” boy who was friendly and loving towards other children. Why such anomaly? Were the teachers adversely disposed, as they often are, towards academically weak students?

Children from families with conflict and animosity are prone to the risk of developing severe emotional, social and behavioural problems. Today’s nuclear family revolves around black LED screens (TV or mobile – take your pick), making this problem acuter. Such children tend to retract into a cocoon, dividing the world into ‘I’ and ‘them’. They interact with the outer world with the only emotions they know – anger, hatred, violence and resentment. There are indeed many ways to better such psychological issues – but is putting them away with actual, hardened criminals the only way?

To the uninformed, post Nirbhaya, the law was amended to allow juveniles between the age group of 16 and 18 years to be tried as “adults” for committing exceptional crimes of “heinous” nature. Despite Indian law being notorious for misuse and misinterpretation, no parameter was laid down to properly define “heinous” (except that it would constitute an offence punishable with at least seven years imprisonment), leaving it to be callously thrown around by a ‘selectively’ upright lower judiciary.

Then why do we – the “click-activism-friendly” middle class – rejoice that he will be tried not as a juvenile, but as an ‘adult’? That the State, instead of rehabilitating him, will punish him and push him further away from any hope of leading a normal life? The truth is, our jails lack reformatory and rehabilitation policies. We do not engage with inmates as human beings, flawed and hungry. Let us not begin to imagine what’ll happen to a 15-year-old down there.

Now some would point out that other developed countries like UK and USA allows minors to be treated at par with adults and there is no reason why we cannot do the same. The answer becomes clear when one takes a cursory glance at the social, cultural, economic and educational differences between the children “here and there”.

The abysmal level of education imparted, especially in government-run institutions, the caste-creed-religion and linguistically fragmented social backdrop,the deplorable material churned out by mainstream media (let us not pretend that we don’t get influenced by what we see) – have all contributed to creating a stark difference between the “mindsets”. Imagine two very busy working parents who compensate their physical and emotional absence with gadgets (“Turn on the TV, then he won’t create a fuss while eating!”). The children are left to fend for themselves emotionally. Add constant pressure and emotional blackmail to crack entrance exams whose success rate hovers below 1% (that’s IIT-JEE, for you) – you’re beginning to get the idea.

Should the juvenile wrongdoer be held responsible for their actions? Yes, of course. But doing so, ignoring social realities, will be a travesty of justice. It is argued that our laws do not act as proper deterrents to juveniles committing crimes. But have our overflowing and understaffed jails ever stood in the way of crime? As advocate Sanjay Hegde puts it, “Has Nirbhaya’s death necessitated such harsh laws to deal with India’s young people or have we elders failed our succeeding generations of youngsters by exposing them to adult penalties?”

On the other hand, a reformative approach will reduce the likelihood of these youngsters repeating their offences and allow them to be engulfed within the folds of society.

Let me end my homily by quoting Clarence Darrow, who, leading the defence in the Leopold and Loeb Case (one of the first cases of ‘thrill killing’) said, “Because somewhere in the infinite process that goes to the making of the boy or the man something slipped, and these … lads sit here hated, despised, outcast, with an entire community shouting for their blood.”

Let us ourselves behave like mature, understanding adults, before forcing someone else to do so.

You must be to comment.

More from Rabindra Kumar Mitra

Similar Posts

By AgentsofIshq

By Zemima Khan

By Mrittunjoy Guha Majumdar

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below