Thursday, October 11, 2007
New Delhi, October 10
“You call it ragging, but it is humiliation and should be banned. It is, but every day students are ragged in the college. They are made naked and ordered to do bad things. This all has brought me to this point. I can’t tell it even to my parents. It is not justified but I can’t bear it any more.”
This is the suicide note that Amit Sahai, an engineering student at NIT Jalandhar, wrote just before jumping in front of a speeding train. Amit didn’t survive but his suicide has become a symbolic act for suffering.
Two years after he died, the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), a non-profit organisation dedicated towards elimination of ragging in universities and colleges, has decided to celebrate his death anniversary on October 11 as No Ragging Day.
The immediate impetus comes after the rise in the number of such cases in the country. According to data compiled by CURE, more than 55 cases of ragging, including six suicides and three attempted suicides, were reported in the last four months.
“The figures reflect a three times increase in ragging cases during the same period last year are grim,” says Harsh Agarwal, one of the founding-members of CURE and a consultant to the Supreme Court-appointed R K Raghavan Committee on ragging. Harsh dropped out of a medical college in Allahabad in 2001 after putting up with month-long ragging by his seniors at the college. A few months later, he joined Delhi University's Hans Raj College and founded the group along with two of his friends.
In its sixth year now, CURE has compiled a comprehensive list of ragging cases that was used as a reference point by the Raghavan panel during the compilation of its report on ragging. “We made three presentations before the panel and our group finds 12 references in the report,” says Varun Aggarwal, another member who founded the group while he was still studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in United States.
“When we began, we would receive several hate mails and threat calls. But we kept compiling the data on ragging, as there was none available at that time. Soon, we started getting mails and requests for membership,” Aggarwal says. With 450 members spread nationwide and a website that receives 5,000 visitors per month, CURE has even launched a newsletter on ragging. And, with the latest initiative on marking a No Ragging Day, the organisation hopes to spread the word further.
On Thursday, it exhorts college students to wear white T-shirts, observe two-minute silence and educate their friends about ragging. And, to make sure that the effort is well-recorded, CURE has also invited pictures or write-ups from students on how they observed the day. The entries can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.