1 Sep 2008, 0513 hrs IST, D Suresh Kumar, TNN
CHENNAI: Swaminathan, a first year student of a leading self-financing engineering college in Thiruporur, shudders on hearing the last bell go.
He loves his college, which is ranked among the top five private institutions, but fears the journey back home on the college bus.
"Once the bus passes the exit gate, the senior students start ragging. They ask the first year students to beg for money from the seniors or propose to the senior girls. Sometimes, they insist that we sing obscene songs. By the time we get down at our respective stops, our self esteem is demolished. This has been the case since college reopened on August 11," he laments.
The senior students have also imposed a dress code for the freshers. "We have to dress in formals but we are not permitted to wear shoes in front of senior students. The only exception is when we enter the workshops where wearing shoes is mandatory as per college rules," Swaminathan says.
Though the college authorities have put up notices on the campus warning senior students that ragging is a criminal offence, it has not saved the students on the bus. Sometimes when lecturers travel in the same bus, the first year students are spared the ordeal.
In Tamil Nadu, ragging was banned by legislation after the murder of a student, Navarasu at the medical college in Annamalai University during a ragging session. Besides, the Supreme Court had also banned ragging and recently a committee headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan recommended criminal action against those indulging in ragging . Inquiries reveal that in many colleges, the hostels have become a place for extortion. "Some of my classmates have ended up parting with up to Rs 1,000 to the seniors for fear of being beaten up," says Ramakrishnan , a student of an engineering college on Old Mahabalipuram Road.
Freshers also fear going to the canteen in some colleges. "The seniors virtually pounce on us and force us to treat them to a sumptuous meal," complains a student. The R K Raghavan committee had said any act of financial extortion or forceful expenditure burden put on a junior student by senior students should be considered as an aspect of ragging for economic dimensions. "It will be ideal if the college authorities can post a lecturer to travel with the students on the college bus for about a month or two till the familiarisation exercise between seniors and juniors," suggests Mythili, a parent in Mylapore.