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Ragging rages

You thought A man Kachroo was a stray incident and ragging was on the wane? JAM paints the true picture…

It was casual curiosity at the JAM office that opened this particular Pandora’s box. A random discussion on ragging had one JAMer hitting Google for more ammunition. But what tumbled out were statistics that had us reeling.

About 13 ragging deaths and around 100 cases of ragging had been reported in the country since August 2009. And this was just 1% of the total figures! The ragging death of Aman Kachroo – the medical student at Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Himachal Pradesh, we realised, was no longer a stray case.

Despite the clarion calls for dealing with ragging strictly, the phenomenon has continued unabated, and according to some experts even increased. “Ragging in educational institutes is no longer limited to the first few months. The commonest form is sexual and physical abuse. Over all, 10 students die every year, 100s of them are injured and 1000s of them are abused.”, said Dr. Kushal Banerjee, the founder of the Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE). Based in Kolkata, Kushal has started branches of his NGO in various cities across the country.

However, the reported figures are not even a fraction of the true figures. Despite laws, NGOs, and helplines, students are still too scared to seek help, Dr Banerjee pointed out. .
“We get anonymous phone calls, e-mails on our website. When a case is reported, we contact the college and ask them what

action they are taking. We then seek help from the government. The Raghavan committee is taking keen interest in these matters and guarantees a prompt response, within a few hours. We have also created an RTI cell that delivers legal consultation to the victims.” he said.

According to Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), almost 60 per cent of ragging takes the form of physical abuse, with another 20 per cent being of a sexual nature.

Another anti-ragging squad, Vidyuth, founded by Anshuman Sinha oversees the issues of ragging in Mumbai and takes it to the higher authorities. “Students are made to do some of the most humiliating things. This sexual, physical harassment as well as the verbal abuse has a big psychological impact. This has been a major issue of concern in engineering and medical colleges. When you are in a group, you know you can bully and that’s because you are united. Rampant alcoholism is another cause that is propagating this morbid crime.”
He added, “I think people have the wrong perceptions about these matters. They take them lightly and consider them “college-related”. They are ignorant about the fact that these inside-campus activities foster outside-campus criminals.”

When JAM asked around, most of the otherwise vociferous collegians chickened out of talking, but some who did justify ragging were…

Madhuchhanda Das (VNIT)
“Girls had zero ragging (meaning physical abuse). We were just made to follow some rules for two months and do some assignments and some silly tasks. It was actually fun, since I’d never experienced anything before.”

Saurabh Aggarwal (Management Trainee)
“I never considered “ragging” as “ragging” because in our hostel, it never went off limits. It was all about barging into a junior’s room in the night, tell him that the room is haunted or just take a person’s case without causing any harm. I consider it an ice-breaker. You are put through a test by your seniors and later they are the ones who officially welcome you. The concept has gotten dirty because of some stupid people. Most people are a part of it because they want to show off. No doubt I was ragged in the institute hostel, but that eventually toughened me up and helped me in a positive manner.”

Ragging is a bigger menace today than it ever was. Even the Medical Council of India has recognized this and requested that it be treated on par with rape. CURE also agrees that ragging has assumed mammoth proportions in the country.
The solution, as they see it, is not new. It involves more awareness, stricter laws on part of the government and better vigilance on part of the colleges. But what is even more important they say is to deal with the issue on a war footing consistently, instead of waiting for an Aman Kachroo case to prompt another law.

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In the last one month

October 23, 2009, Tamil Nadu: Four medicos arrested in ragging case involving students in the men’s hostel of Coimbatore Medical College.

October 24, 2009, Tamil Nadu: The management of the Puducherry Engineering College suspended 11 senior students from the hostel for alleged ragging and ‘indiscipline’.

October 14, 2009, Bihar: Authorities of Bhagalpur engineering college engineering college imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 on a student and withdrew his scholarship for ragging freshers.

October 14, 2009, Bihar: Police lodge a complaint against three students of Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology for ragging and assaulting a fresher. The second year students allegedly forced new girl students to kiss boys and thrashed a student who opposed them.

October 10, Andhra Pradesh: Five engineering students of Varada Reddy Engineering College in Warangal are arrested for ragging.

October 09, 2009, Kolkata: Ragged B Pharma student, Nayan Adak, commits suicide on second attempt. He had earlier attempted suicide on September 5, the day he was ragged allegedly in his campus. He failed in his first attempt. A month later, he hanged himself. He had been bullied, harassed and slashed on his hand with a blade. But the worst punishment came in the form of air being injected from an empty syringe allegedly by some senior students of the institution. Writhing in intense pain, Adak returned home and consumed poison.

Expert speak
Mumbai-based psychologist Dr Veena Rao Fernanades, said, “I think the impact on the victim’s part is helplessness, anger and the feeling of being singled out. The seniors rag their juniors to quench their morbid thirst to exercise negative control and power over the victims. It is the latent animal instinct that surfaces over a period of time. The doer himself might be insecure or traumatized when he does this. Behind this aggressiveness is a lot of fear and hurt. For boys, showing their vulnerability is not acceptable as it mirrors them as “weak”. It is unusual for a boy or a man to accept the fact that he was a victim of ragging because people might laugh at him. He probably would try to avoid the embarrassment and not make a big deal out of it by only passing it off as a casual thing or something that he enjoyed being a part of.”

Get help
You can call: 1800-180-5522
The ragging helpline operates round the clock. Once a student calls and registers a complaint, assistance starts within 15 minutes.
For further details, you can also log on to :
http://stopragging.org/
http://www.noragging.com/
http://no2ragging.org/

– Priya Chaphekar

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