Thursday, November 29, 2007

[Hindu] Ragging victim complains of denial of justice

One of our readers, Shri N R Ravisankar, sends us this report from The Hindu

Link to report

K. Santhosh

Thrissur: Manu, victim in a ragging case at Kerala Agricultural University’s (KAU) College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, on Wednesday said he had been denied justice as the arrest of the accused had been delayed.

On October 23, the police had registered a case against five students for allegedly ragging Manu, a first year student. He had attempted suicide by slashing his wrist after the incident, the police said. He later identified the accused,- Berin P. Varghese, M.R. Arun Raj, Abin B. Mathews, R. Asim and Ajaz Mohammed, from photos in college records.

“I want justice. Even a month after registration of the case, the accused have not been arrested,” Mr. Manu told The Hindu over phone from his home in Neyyattinkara.

The accused were booked under Section 4 of the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998 (punishable by imprisonment up to two years), and sections 306 (abetment to commit suicide), 294 (obscene acts) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The Sessions court had dismissed anticipatory bail petitions filed by them.

Manu was discharged from hospital on Wednesday.

“I was not well. I could not handle the stress. I had stomach ailments and nausea. I am better now. I plan to attend classes from Monday. I hope everything will be smooth. My class-mates are caring,” he said.

He said he did not hate anyone, but was pained over his experiences as a fresher . "This should not happen to anyone else in the State. More students should not suffer. This case should highlight the evils of ragging and effect a change on campuses,” Mr. Manu said.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

[Telegraph] UGC spares rag-rod


New Delhi, Nov. 27: The University Grants Commission has asked affiliates across India to follow all recommendations of a Supreme Court-appointed committee to curb ragging, but is unwilling to do so itself.

The Supreme Court committee headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan had recommended that funds received by universities be linked to the implementation of anti-ragging measures.

Amid reports of rising instances of ragging, the UGC has decided against implementing the recommendation, seen by committee members and activists as a key weapon in the Centre’s armoury.

UGC officials said the commission does not intend to pressure universities into implementing the Raghavan committee’s recommendations by threatening to snap their purse strings.

“There is no plan to link the performance of universities in curbing ragging to the funding they receive,” a key policymaker at the UGC said.

UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat confirmed this. “The measures we are taking are enough,” he said.

Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha yesterday, junior education minister D. Purandeshwari said the government was aware of 70 reports of ragging this year.

According to anti-ragging activists, the figure last year was in the mid-forties — indicating a rise in cases this year.

But the UGC believes it would be next to impossible to implement the recommendation right now. It is learnt that the UGC has not yet informed the Raghavan committee of its decision.

One member of the committee, informed by The Telegraph, said the UGC’s decision was “very disappointing”.

“It is surprising because our aim was to give the Centre a strong weapon to whip those universities which do not take strong anti-ragging measures advocated by the committee,” another member of the committee said.

The Raghavan committee, however, is planning to approach the Supreme Court for ordering the UGC to implement the recommendation, the member said. “Once the court orders the UGC, they will have to follow the recommendation,” he added. The court is hearing the case early December.

[Hindu] Two hauled up for ragging

NEW DELHI: Two separate cases have been registered against two students of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped for allegedly ragging a freshman. The incident of ragging, which was captured by a first year student of the Institute on his mobile phone camera, was reported last week .

According to the police, a freshman was ragged by an intern, Santosh, on the night of November 17 and the incident was caught on camera by Anshul, a first year student. A complaint was subsequently lodged by the victim the next day.

On November 19, the victim informed the college authorities who in turn suspended the internship of Santosh and asked both the accused to vacate the hostel.

Sources said that on hearing a complaint has been lodged against him, Santosh allegedly threatened the freshman and warned him against reporting the incident.

A second FIR was lodged on November 21 against Santosh for intimidating the victim and forcing him to withdraw his complaint.

When the victim and his batchmates refused to withdraw the complaint, Santosh made a second attempt to threaten them.

[DNA] 70 cases of ragging in 2007-08

NEW DELHI: Ragging continues to take a toll on students in colleges in the country, with as many as 70 cases of the illegal act, nine of them ending in suicides, being reported in 2007-08.

The court-appointed committee set up for monitoring implementation of the recommendations of the Raghavan Committee on measures for prevention of ragging has come across 70 cases reported in the print media during the current academic year, Minister of HRD D Purandeswari told Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Monday.

"Ragging is reported to be the cause of nine cases of suicide and three cases of serious injuries among these cases," she said.

The Minister said the Central Government has drawn the attention of states and regulatory institutions to the various recommendations of the Raghavan committee.

The HRD Ministry has also launched a media campaign through newspapers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

[NewIndPress] SFI to set up anti-ragging squads in colleges

THRISSUR: The Students Federation of India will set up anti-ragging squads in all the colleges in order to root out the evil of ragging, SFI state secretary M. Swaraj has said.

Talking to mediapersons here on Saturday, Swaraj said that the SFI would also set up anti-ragging cells in each district.

The SFI will stage a march to the Mannuthy police station on December 4 demanding the arrest of the five senior students of the KAU’s veterinary college at Mannuthy who were accused of ragging a junior student.

He said that the students accused in the ragging cases are not the SFI workers.

Answering a query, he said that the establishment of self-financing professional colleges by the government or under the co-operative sector will help bring down the exploitation of the students by the private self-financing professional college authorities in the state.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

[Telegraph] Delhi duo booked for ragging


New Delhi, Nov. 24: Delhi police have registered FIRs against two students of a Delhi University physiotherapy college for allegedly ragging a first-year student.

Santosh, an intern at Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, and Anshul, a first-year student, allegedly ragged another first-year student on the night of November 17.

“The boy complained that Santosh and Anshul asked him to drink alcohol and strip. They then took an MMS clip of the naked boy,” Dharmendar Kumar, the director of the institute, said.

Santosh has been suspended from the hostel, and his internship cancelled immediately after the victim complained to college authorities on November 19, Kumar said.

Anshul has also been asked to vacate the hostel.

The victim filed an FIR against Santosh and Anshul the day after the incident. Kumar said the institute also registered a complaint with the police the day the victim informed them about the incident.

On November 21, however, Santosh entered the campus and threatened the victim.

“The victim was told to withdraw his complaint, or he would be beaten up,” Kumar said. The victim complained about the threat to the authorities, who then registered another FIR against Santosh for threatening the victim.

The institute has set up its own disciplinary committee to enquire into the allegations.

Friday, November 23, 2007

[GreaterKashmir] Stop ragging or we’ll commit suicide: IAMS students


Srinagar, Nov 22: Scores of students of the Institute of Asian Medical Sciences (IAMS) at Zakura on Thursday threatened to commit suicide if the college authorities don’t rein in the senior students who are ragging the freshers in the college.

The new comers in the college, who have joined the college nearly a month back to pursue a Bachelors degree in Unani Medicine (BUMS) said the final year students of the college have been “ruthlessly ragging” them for the past one month.

The college authorities, they added, have miserably failed to curb the ragging menace in the college. “We are not against interacting with our seniors. We respect them, but they are resorting to hooliganism and the college administration is watching all this haplessly,” the students, wishing anonymity, told Greater Kashmir.

The seniors, they said, are asking boys to “remove and tighten their pants” in front of girls.
“They (seniors) are asking us to perform immoral acts that we can’t explain,” the students said. “We’re humiliated and nobody is coming to our rescue.”

The college authorities, they said, are not paying heed to their grievances, forcing them to seek help of the media persons in curbing the problem. “We’ll commit suicide if this ragging continues,” said a visibly perturbed student, who approached GK with her mother.

“We’ll quit the college if the college authorities do not initiate disciplinary action against the seniors who have unleashed a reign of terror in the college and are harassing the girls unnecessarily.”

The seniors, they added, have asked them to follow “their guidelines” that they have pasted on certain walls of the college building. The guidelines go like this: “Juniors must know that BUMS seniors are never wrong; if any junior creates indiscipline, he or she will move 3-4 steps backwards and then wish the seniors; if any student complains before the college authorities of ragging, they will be rudely ragged; all juniors will call senior boys as sir and senior girls as madam; and finally no students will use his or her cell before any senior.”

“If any student commits suicide, the college authorities will be responsible for it,” they said, adding, they will request the university authorities to derecognize the college if the ragging continues.

“The university authorities must take a strong note of what’s happening in the college,” they said.

When Greater Kashmir apprised the Station House Officer (SHO) Zakura about the problem, he promised action. “I haven’t received any written complaint in this regard. The moment I get receive a complaint in this regard, I assure you that we’ll take action against the culprits,” the SHO, Raja Tasleem said.

When contacted, the college principal Dr Khurseed Ahmad Bakshi said that he has constituted special teams to monitor ragging. “If the students will identify the persons resorting to ragging we will certainly take action against them,” Bakshi told Greater Kashmir. “We can’t tolerate ragging in the college.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

[Hindu] Ragging: panel report to be implemented soon

Staff Reporter

Universities, colleges told to submit ATR

All colleges should set up anti-ragging committees

KOCHI: The Education Department will soon recommend the implementation of the R.K. Raghavan Committee report against ragging in all higher education institutions in the State.

The move comes in the wake of a finding that majority of the universities and colleges in the State had failed to implement the recommendations aimed at checking the growing menace on campuses.

Universities and colleges will be asked to submit an action taken report (ATR) on the steps being initiated on the campus to avoid incidents of ragging. Each college will be directed to set up an anti-ragging committee and an anti-ragging squad.

The anti-ragging committee at the level of the institution should consist of the representatives of civil and police administration, local media, non-governmental organisations involved in youth activities, faculty members, parents, students belonging to the freshers’ category as well as seniors, non-teaching staff and will be headed by the head of the institution. At the district-level, the committee recommended an anti-ragging committee consisting of the heads of higher education institutions as members. It should be headed by the District Collector/ Deputy Commissioner/ District Magistrate and should also have the Superintendent of Police/SSP of the district as member.
Preparatory meetings

The district-level committee should hold preparatory meetings during summer vacation to take stock of the state of preparedness of each institution and its compliance with the policies and guidelines of the appropriate bodies, the university/State/Central authorities and the apex court’s guidelines related to curbing ragging.

It is reliably learnt that majority of the educational institutions have not formed such committees on their campuses. The squad was supposed to have conducted surprise raids on hostels and other ‘hot spots.’ Barring a few initiatives, no major attempt has been made to launch such lightning squads in government and self-financing colleges in the State.

Lack of coordinated efforts between university officials and the police authorities are delaying the process of bringing justice to the ragging victims.

The Raghavan Committee report clearly pointed out that complaints or information with regard to ragging could be oral or written and even from third parties and the confidentiality of the source of information must be protected at all costs.

Sources in the committee said that remedial action should be initiated and completed within the week of the incident itself so that complaints do not linger on and allow either interest in pursuing the matter to wane or enable the culprits to tamper evidence or influence witnesses.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

[Hindu] Ragging at Cusat: one more arrested

Police say total number of accused will come to 20

Eight persons identified in case

Six of the accused from Bihar

KOCHI: The Kalamassery police on Wednesday arrested one student from the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) on the charges of ragging.

The police said Bijin V.J., 20, of Sreekaryam, Thiruvananthapuram, was the ninth accused in the case and was arrested from the Cusat campus.

He was produced before the Aluva Judicial First Class Magistrate – II and released on bail.

Bijin, a sixth semester student of Ship Technology, had made the arrangements for the hotel for the ‘Fresher’s Day’ celebrations, said the police. In all, 21 persons have been accused in the case.

“The students have, however, identified only eight persons, of which six are from Bihar. The other two are from Kozhikode and Palakkad,” said K. Sethuraman, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Thrikkakkara). Since the students were suspended from college, the police could not trace them. “Two teams have been sent to Palakkad and Kozhikode to arrest the accused,” he said.

However, officers at the Kalamassery police station say more students have been identified and the total number of accused in the case would come to nearly 20.
Police initiative

When the city police took up the initiative to curb ragging on campuses a couple of years ago, no major incidents were reported. Still, the police convened meetings of the heads of institutions to discuss about the campaign. This was followed up by a couple of awareness classes

During the meetings with heads of institutions, it was made clear that the police could, according to the Act, initiate proceedings against the head of the institution on the failure to take disciplinary action on receiving complaints of ragging.

The Act also gives the victim the option of approaching the City Police Commissioner directly and initiating action without the complainant’s identity being revealed. Despite this, the police find it hard to collect evidence. “Students are not coming forward against their seniors. We are now planning to run an awareness campaign,” said Mr. Sethuraman.

[Peninsula] VCs panel to check ragging

Thiruvananthapuram • Kerala Education Minister M A Baby has said a panel of Vice-Chancellors has been formed to check the menace of ragging in colleges.

Baby’s announcement has come in the wake of repeated incidents, including a student’s attempted suicide after being tortured in the name of ragging by senior students.

Manu, aged 18, was found with slashed veins on the Veterinary College campus at Mannuthy in Thrissur last month. “I could not tolerate the humiliation”, he said.

Hailing from a poor family, Manu had great hopes when he joined the college. He is struggling to come out of the trauma.

The police arrested a senior student of a gang of eight in connection with ragging of a first semester B Tech student at the Cochin University of Science and Technology.

Four students, accompanied by parents, had complained to the police against the torture on the campus.

Five senior students of a private engineering college in Thrissur are under suspension. A civil engineering student in his complaint alleged that he was taken to a toilet and humiliated by his seniors on October 18, authorities at Vidya Academy of Science and Technology said.

Two senior students have been suspended from Amala Medical College in Thrissur and five others at Pushpagiri Medical College in Tiruvalla for inflicting mental agony on juniors.

The Minister said illegal hostels would be shut down. The State-level committee would monitor the affairs on the campuses.

The All India Council for Technical Education too has issued a warning that action will be taken against the managements of colleges from where cases of ragging are reported.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

[IE] Panel to probe rising cases of ragging

Lucknow, November 6 Taking note of several incidents of ragging recently, Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Parishad Chairman Sukhram Singh Yadav today constituted a seven-member committee to look into the rising cases of harassment of students in technical institutes.

In his ruling, Yadav announced the setting up of a committee led by the technical education minister or his representative along with party leaders. The committee will have to submit its report in the next Assembly session.

The issue, which was raised through an adjournment notice in Zero Hour by the Rashtriya Lok Dal, saw members, including leader of the House Swami Prasad Maurya terming it as a curse on the educational system.

Members sought strict action not only against the guilty but also the proctor and warden of private colleges and hostel, who indulge in such acts.

Teachers Group leader Om Prakash Sharma called for setting up of a House panel, which would look into the matter by taking inputs from students, teachers and others to check ragging.

[Telegraph] Raggers, beware

An official commission’s recommendations may help put an end to ragging. V. Kumara Swamy reports

Jagannath Misra (name changed), an engineering student in Bhubaneswar, was asked to pay a fine by his college when he led a “freshers’ protest” after he and some of his friends were ragged brutally. He was also slapped a notice that threatened rustication from college if he raised the issue any further.

“Although a few seniors were fined, the college’s action suggested that it was siding with the seniors,” he says. “First of all, freshers are a scared lot. If they don’t have any avenue to complain when they are ragged, it adds to their misery,” says Misra.

Misra’s college is not the only one to brush the matter under the carpet. Except for the ones that make the headlines, the majority of ragging cases goes unreported and the perpetrators get away scot-free. Even when the University Grants Commission (UGC) intervenes, college authorities either punish the guilty students lightly or sometimes simply refuse to acknowledge that ragging ever took place, as happened in a recent case in St Stephen’s College, Delhi, when a fresher was allegedly set on fire.

In fact, the UGC — in its submission to a Supreme Court-appointed committee headed by R.K. Raghavan, former director, Central Bureau of Investigation — said that the commission’s guidelines on punishments or preventive measures were not implemented and remained only on paper. It also admitted that college and university functionaries consider ragging a non-academic issue and therefore do not get involved either because of indifference or a lack of commitment. The UGC is responsible for co-ordinating, determining and maintaining education standards and releasing grants to universities.

There have been more than 50 cases of ragging, including six cases of suicide by students affected by ragging, ever since the Supreme Court order to implement the Raghavan Committee’s recommendations in May this year. Helpless, the UGC is asking the government to amend the UGC Act, 1956, so that it can teach a lesson to erring colleges and universities. The UGC now plays an advisory role and its guidelines on ragging are not mandatory.

“We shall be proposing some changes to the UGC Act so that the apex court’s directions on ragging can be incorporated and implemented more effectively,” says Tilak Raj Kem, secretary, UGC. The amendments are likely to take place when the HRD ministry makes changes to the act, including stringent measures against fake universities. “Though the UGC is very serious about ragging, we realise our limitations, which is why we see the need for changes,” says Kem.

Better late than never, say anti-ragging activists. “If the Raghavan committee recommendations are converted into law by amending the UGC Act, it will certainly serve the purpose. But it will have to be seen as to how many of its 50 recommendations are accepted and in what language,” says Shivam Vij, an anti-ragging activist and a consultant to the Raghavan Committee.

The committee’s recommendations include urging the courts to speedily try cases involving ragging, forming anti-ragging committees and squads at all the institutions, the introduction of a subject relating to ragging in school curricula and the involvement of the media and civil society in educating students on the harmful effects of ragging.

One of the closely watched amendments, as suggested by the Raghavan Committee, will be on the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) with the police by the principal of the institution if the victim or the parent is not satisfied with the institutional arrangement for action. But not many are in favour of this.

“Colleges are wary of going to the police even when students get violent, so it is a little far-fetched for either the UGC or the Raghavan Committee to believe that principals will go ahead and file an FIR. It is like inviting trouble along with some bad publicity for the college,” says a Calcutta-based professor on condition of anonymity.

“Principals are obviously wary as they value the ‘reputation’ of the college,” says Vij. “To get an FIR registered is the most difficult thing in India. The Supreme Court has taken note of this. As long as colleges and law enforcement agencies think that ragging is nothing but just a slightly exaggerated version of college fun, filing FIRs will never work. Ragging should be seen as a crime, which is yet to happen,” says Anant Kumar Asthana, a Delhi-based lawyer who runs an organisation that provides legal assistance to vulnerable victims.

Although the UGC is tight-lipped about its recommendations to the government, it is likely to tread a middle path on the issue. “Once the UGC acquires the power to withdraw grants or even withdraw affiliations, colleges will fall in line. The onus of filing an FIR shouldn’t be on college principals,” says an UGC official.

But some universities, which took strict action against ragging, say that there is no problem even if the recommendations of the Raghavan Committee are accepted and implemented by the UGC. “Unless a few examples are set, institutions will never take the issue of ragging seriously,” says Bhagirath Prasad, vice-chancellor, Devi Ahilyabai University, Indore. The university recently expelled 20 students, including two for life, for indulging in ragging.

But Prasad also calls for a ‘softer’ approach. “If the UGC can set aside a fund to run programmes against ragging in universities across the country, and if this provision is included even in the Act, I think that would go a long way,” says Prasad.

Anti-ragging activists are also calling on the UGC to take steps that take a holistic view of ragging as a menace. “Ragging is seen as a social norm and not an evil. This fact has to be accepted and steps taken to act against it accordingly,” says Harsh Agarwal of the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE).

Since the UGC currently doesn’t have a dedicated cell to deal with the problem of ragging, activists are asking the commission to create one. “A central monitoring mechanism can improve the implementation of anti-ragging measures,” says Asthana. Victims of ragging could directly report to the central cell.

“Victims are usually so scared that they create a new e-mail ID even to mail an NGO like ours. Unless the students are sure that they can get justice, they will not approach the authorities,” says Agarwal.

“We had sent a questionnaire to universities across the country asking them about the safeguards against ragging, the steps proposed to stop ragging and other details. This would also help us in formulating a policy so that there are better safeguards,” says Kem.

Whatever the steps, action is what the students and activists demand to put an end to ragging forever.

Monday, November 05, 2007

[ZeeNews] UGC for regulation to make anti-ragging measures binding

New Delhi, Nov 04: Concerned over continuing incidents of ragging despite a Supreme Court ruling which requires educational institutions to file an FIR against those indulging in the offence, the UGC now wants to make anti-ragging measures binding on the learning centres.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) will suggest that the government give it more teeth to implement the anti-ragging measures in "letter and spirit" by bringing in a regulation.

"The Supreme Court has already directed that institutes must take necessary measures to curb the cases of ragging. We have also recommended adequate measures to be taken by the institutions. But many institutes do not seem to be following the recommendations because of lack of any regulation," UGC Secretary T R Kem said.

"That is the reason we will propose to the government to have a regulation in place which will make the anti-ragging measures binding on the colleges and universities," he said.

The HRD Ministry, following the Supreme Court directive, had set up a seven-member committee headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan to recommend anti-ragging measures.

The committee proposed to include ragging as a special section under the Indian Penal Code.

"The committee's recommendations have legal validity. But then there are colleges which tend to ignore them," Kem said.

Bureau Report

Sunday, November 04, 2007

[NewIndPress] Five students arrested in connection with ragging

THRISSUR: In connection with the alleged ragging of a junior engineering student, Christo, by the senior students of Vidya Academy of Science and Technology at Kurumal in the district, the police arrested 5 senior students of the college on Wednesday.

Vadakkancherry Circle Inspector said that the students, accompanied by their parents surrendered before him at the police station. He said that they were released on bail later.

[ToI] Student lodges ragging complaint

BEHRAMPORE: A student of Murshidabad College of Engineering and Technology (MCET) has lodged a complaint of ragging at Behrampore police station against eight third-year students on Saturday.

Arif Iqbal, the second-year student, alleged that the seniors had demanded Rs 600 from him a few days ago. But he had refused. Things came to a head when they blocked his way while he was going for a class on Thursday and again demanded the amount. But Arif stood firm. This prompted the students to pounce on him and bash him up. Arif suffered facial injuries and his spectacles were broken.

MCET principal Dibyendu Ghosal, however, pleaded ignorance and wondered as to why Arif did not inform him of the matter before going to police.

"I do not know why Arif went to the police first before intimating me anything about the matter. We will set up a committee to probe into the matter. I will request the police not to start an inquiry before we start our investigation," he said. However, deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Santo Mitra ruled out the option. "We are not bound to keep the principal’s request. If Arif has lodged a complaint, police will start an investigation," he added. "I went to the police first as I was frightened," Arif said.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

[ToI] 21 students suspended for ragging juniors in Kochi

KOCHI: Cracking the whip against ragging, the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) has suspended 21 senior students of the department of Ship Technology following complaints of the offence against them.

The suspended students are from the third semester and were staying at a hostel in Kochi.

CUSAT Registrar Dr A Ramachandran told reporters here that the students have been suspended, pending an inquiry. If a detailed probe finds them guilty, they would be expelled from the college, he said.

Police are also conducting investigations into the incident relating to ragging of the first semester students in September. The victim students had alleged they had been physiclly tortured and that some were forcibly made to consume liqour in a hotel.

A preliminary inquiry conducted by CUSAT officials has found that the junior students were physcially tortured by their seniors from September 4 to September 14.

Following the ragging incident, at least five students have dropped out of the course.