Abhijit Dasgupta Kolkata, January 15, 2009
In the first-ever incident of its kind in India, 25 students and ex-students of the Jadavpur University in West Bengal have been fined Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 depending on the scale of ragging of a fresher last July. Three students who were found guilty of forcing a girl student to smoke and drink alcohol in broad daylight on the campus will lose two academic years. Such stringent punishment has never been imposed in any university of India before.
The fresher, Parsati Dutta, of the architecture department complained to the vice-chancellor and a prima facie investigation proved many students to be associated with the incident. Next, a formal enquiry committee was set up. This committee submitted its report on Wednesday awarding the damning punishments.
Parthaprathim Biswas, member of the executive council of JU, said such punishment was unique and more so because the ragging incident happened in broad daylight and there were countless witnesses.
The girl complained, though usually victims do not for fear of reprisals. "But this time, we got the criminals...Ragging is a crime."
Biswas said that three students, two girls and one boy, would lose two academic years because they were directly involved while 20 others had been fined Rs 5,000 each and suspension for two semesters.
Five ex-students have been fined Rs 10,000 each and their employers notified.
"If they are found to be indulging in such cases ever again, we will not allow them inside on our campus. However, with these punishments, we think that ragging menace will stop."
According to Biswas, it was unique that such criminal ragging took place on the open campus. "Usually, we get reports of ragging from the hostel but this time, the fresher was humiliated in public and in the open."
All the degrees of the ex-students who had been found guilty were being held back and will not be awarded at the convocation ceremony slated soon.
In justification, the students came up with lame excuses which did not hold water. The enquiry report was once withheld after the students appealed. However, the enquiry committee sat again and probed the case and reiterated the punishment awards.
Only one concession was made; in the case of the three who had got suspension orders for four semesters, the term was reduced to three semesters now though this still means that they will lose two academic years.