It would have passed off as any other Wednesday afternoon in Kottayam if not for 21-year old Lekshmi being burnt alive in the library of the School of Medical Education by a man who later succumbed to his own burns after he immolated himself.
But did Lekshmi, a final year student at the institution, have a premonition that 26-year old Adarsh, a former student of Physiotherapy at the Gandhinagar Centre of the same college, would harm her in some way?
In the first week of January, Lekshmi, along with her family, had approached the Kayamkulam police saying Adarsh had been threatening her for spurning his advances.
âShe sobbed in front of me, saying she was too scared to go to college. We then arranged for a meeting between the two, with both families present. All issues were sorted out.
Since they were college kids, we thought of this as something that happened all the time. After the meeting, Lekshmi had visibly relaxed,â recalls Circle Inspector K Sadan of the Kayamkulam police station, while speaking to The News Minute.
According to him, Lekshmi had walked out of the relationship as she had come to question Adarshâs character. But not for one moment did anyone think that things would take such a horrible turn.
No one chose to linger on the unwanted stalking tendencies exhibited, or the persistent wooing even after the break-up. It was just âboys will be boysâ. This was bound to happen. Anyway, âno one had forced her to be in a relationship with him in the first place. She was the one who rejected him after playing along for a while. Can he be really blamed for this?â.....all the usual justification.
Vipin Roldant, Chief Consultant Psychologist at the Sunrise Hospital in Kakkanad, feels that if Adarsh had been exhibiting such psychological imbalances for a while, someone close to him, preferably family, should have stepped in to help.
âIn this case, it was clear that the boy was disturbed and frustrated much earlier. So, his family or someone close to him should have stepped in for assistance. If necessary, professional assistance such as counselling should have been provided.
He should have been given support to deal with the situation. We cannot say for sure that he had some sort of a mental disorder. But yes, he may have had psychological imbalances, as he appeared intolerant and sadistic,â Vipin opines.
According to him, this is not just a one-off incident in todayâs society. âIt basically means that there is a problem with our education system, which strives to attain only academic excellence. Education should also factor in behaviour formation, mental health, and a proper support system.â
Vipin however admits that when such cases come to the police, they can only recommend counselling. âWhat happens most of the time is that parents are the ones who are more eager to wind up the case. So, they merely agree, but do not follow it up, with hardly a thought about harmful consequences in the future.â
Dr K Gireesh, Assistant Professor at the Government Medical College in Thiruvananthapuram and State Coordinator of Mental Health at National Health Mission, terms it as frustration-aggression.
âWe live in a world where we read, hear, see violence all over. This has a huge impact on our psyche. We cannot say he had a mental disorder, but he did possess an unhealthy mind.
If we had been able to veer his thoughts to other things, we could have prevented the tragedy. Every human uses a defense mechanism to solve problems. In this case, he used a negative defensive mechanism.â
Gireesh believes that Adarsh should have got professional, scientific assistance to deal with his situation: âHe needed someone who could have shown him some positive defensive mechanism.â