Months after having phenyl poured down her throat, ragging victim Ashwathy back to college

The story of a young girl taunted for being dark, who has shown the courage to go back to college.
Months after having phenyl poured down her throat, ragging victim Ashwathy back to college
Months after having phenyl poured down her throat, ragging victim Ashwathy back to college
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Janaki received a call from her daughter Aswathy on Monday night, reassuring her that she was happy at her new college in Kozhikode.

Janaki had dropped Ashwathy at her new college just that morning, and until she received the call that night, her heart had been pounding heavily, Janaki admits.

19-year-old Ashwathy, a native of Edappal in Malappuram district, was ragged by senior students at Al Qamar nursing college in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district in May this year. She had joined the college only a few months prior to the incident. A group of seniors had forced her to drink toilet cleaning liquid, as a result of which, her food pipe was burnt. 

Read Aswathy's letter on what happened that day.

The police had in June arrested five students in connection with the ragging incident. 

Ashwathy was hospitalized till August this year following the injury, and underwent treatment at multiple hospitals.

On Monday, after recovering from injuries and the trauma that followed, Ashwathy joined a nursing college in Kozhikode.

Ashwathy says that she desperately wanted to complete her studies, as the ragging incident had forced her to discontinue her studies.

“When I entered the new classroom yesterday, I was reminded of the first day in Kalaburagi college. But I knew it will not be the same as that. I am not scared anymore. I am confident I can study properly,” Ashwathy says. 

Ashwathy recounted her days at the college in Kalaburagi, where every day was spent in the fear of what the senior students were up to. 

Ashwathy at Kozhikode Medical College in June

"Taunting me was an everyday affair for them. They would call me dark, forcefully make me greet them every time I see them. Even after getting back to the hostel, they would continue doing so. We had to cook for ourselves at the hostel and then make use of the rest of the time for studies. The senior girls would make me stand in a corner in their room, with my hands above my head. I don't remember peacefully studying there," Ashwathy recounts. 

But it is not so easy for 45-year-old Janaki to have send her daughter to a college away from home for a second time.

“You know when you trip and fall once, you have this fear in you that you might fall again. I have the same fear in me. But I am also relieved that the new college will be good for her. Moreover, it is only a few hours from here. I can drop in anytime to meet my child,” Janaki says.

Weeks after Ashwathy’s case was reported, JDT trust that runs a nursing college in Kerala had come forward to offer to sponsor her studies. This came as a huge relief for Janaki, a construction worker who hasn’t been able to go for work ever since Ashwathy was hospitalized.

The Kerala government had also assisted in meeting her treatment expenses that ran into lakhs of rupees.

College principal Sunitha says that the college is particular to provide a conducive atmosphere for Ashwathy to learn. 

"We understand that she has harsh memories associated with college. We have promised her parents to do everything possible to make her comfortable," she says. 

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