NEW DELHI - Despite a Supreme Court directive to colleges to curb ragging, the scourge that most recently caused the death of a medical student and led another to attempt suicide, continues to terrorise hundreds across the country, with many brutal cases going unreported.
Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE), the country’s only registered anti-ragging NGO, calculated that nine teenagers are killed every year due to ragging while hundreds of them get seriously injured, hospitalised or disabled due to ragging by their seniors in colleges.
‘We observed a pattern of ragging in colleges after analysing the ragging complaints registered with us. We found that sexual and physical abuse has become rampant in colleges and students get a kind of sadistic pleasure in ragging,’ Kashal Banerjee, founder president of the NGO, told IANS.
In February this year, taking serious note of an alarming rise in incidents of ragging in educational institutions across the country, the Supreme Court accepted the recommendations of the K.R. Raghavan Committee to curb the menace.
Despite the apex court’s direction to all educational institutions to take stringent anti-ragging measures, including slapping criminal cases against erring students, ragging incidents remain unchecked in the country.
Interestingly, there are several communities on social networking sites where ideas are invited for ragging freshers.
‘Ragging is an organised crime as students prepare months before the new academic year starts. Students invite ideas on networking sites like Orkut for ragging juniors,’ said Banerjee.
A 2007 report by an anti-ragging group Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), which analysed 64 ragging complaints, found that over 60 percent of these were related to physical ragging and 20 percent were sexual in nature.
Within a week two horrendous ragging incident were reported - Aman Kachru died Sunday after being ragged by four final year students of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Himachal Pradesh. Police said he died of head injuries and other wounds.
In another incident a girl student of agriculture engineering in Andhra Pradesh attempted suicide after her hostel mates allegedly made her dance nude as part of ragging.
Raghavan, a former CBI director, in his report said that the menace of ragging has assumed alarming proportions as freshers are subjected to torture, extortion and harassment by seniors with a criminal bent of mind. He also said that the medical colleges are the worst affected in India.
‘We used to have two ragging sessions per day and were asked to do everything starting from washing used vessels to dancing nude on a table. And, we never dared to make a complaint to the authorities as it would have further increased trouble for us,’ said Naveen Tentiwal, an electrical engineering student, an alumnus of a reputed engineering college in Kolkata.
Many students even drop out of colleges after being ragged.
‘I withdrew my son from an engineering college in Bihar after he was ragged by his seniors. He was so scared that he ran away from the college and said he will die if he continues to stay there. For the next one year he was so depressed that he did not join any college and was being given regular counselling,’ said Ranjita Mishra, mother of a ragging victim.
Anti-ragging experts and psychiatrists feel that it is not stringent laws but awareness and involvement of civil society that can check the menace.
‘I think there is no perfect remedy and the law alone cannot stop ragging in colleges. We need to spread awareness among students and civil society to curtail the menace, Banerjee added.
Psychiatrist Sameer Parikh feels that violent behaviour among college students could be because of uncontrolled anger or to make a style statement.
‘Many times students feel that they were ragged and so they have a right to rag their juniors. Ragging is acceptable when it is mutually acceptable in a light way but students often forget that their act could take somebody’s life which is really unacceptable,’ Parikh told IANS.
(Richa Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)