Sunday, August 14, 2011

Authorities turn blind eye as L D hostel students suffer

Tuesday’s incident in which a fresher was reportedly slapped by a drunk senior has created panic among other students. They fear the worst is not over yet as outsiders continue to frequent the engineering hostel without anyone checking them Tuesday night’s alleged ragging of a fresher by senior students after reportedly consuming alcohol at the L D engineering college hostel has not only created a sense of fear among hostel inmates, but is also indicative that the worst might still be waiting to happen if the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the problem.

A day after the incident, the matter was handed over to the anti-ragging committee, a student was ousted from the hostel and the police were trying to trace the ‘guilty’ students. But this has done little to create a sense of security among the inmates, who continue to live amid fear. The authorities need to wake up and take some concrete measures to avoid recurrence of such incidents, many students complained.

Barely a year ago, a 30-year-old man was stabbed to death on the hostel premises in a brawl that followed a drinking session in a hostel room. Though none of those involved in the incident were college students, they had gathered for a booze session in the room, and then got into a brawl.

A number of students, university staff and security personnel whom Mirror spoke to after the Tuesday incident, mentioned that the interference of outsiders, who would frequent the hostel without any check, consumption of liquor and harassment of junior students was quite common in the hostel, with the authorities turning a blind eye to such incidents.

A security personnel of Gujarat Industrial Security Force (GISF) even alleged that everything was happening with the consent and knowledge of college authorities. “The rector himself has been having booze sessions with some of the inmates. How do you expect him to stop such activities? Such booze sessions and brawls are common with outsiders easily gaining access and there is no sense of security among the students,” he said.

The college authorities admit they can do little to prevent entry of antisocial elements into the hostel, but denied the involvement of officials in such activities.

“No official from the college is involved and such allegations are baseless. If a security personnel finds anyone involved in such activities, he should bring it to the notice of authorities or nab the persons who are involved,’’ said L D engineering college Principal M N Patel.

Patel also claimed that under given circumstances, it was not possible for the authorities to keep a check on such incidents. “There are too many entry points to the premises, all of which cannot be closed. If any of the security personnel or students notice anyone indulging in such activities, they should bring it to the knowledge of authorities,” he said, adding, “it was practically not possible to keep a watch on all 1,000 students who are staying in 240 rooms of hostel.”

However, security personnel and students maintained that whenever authorities were apprised about such incidents, they did little.

In his complaint to the Gujarat University police station, Ashish Sorathiya has alleged that the rector whom he approached after the incident, tried to hush up the matter. “Instead of showing any concern about the incident he asked me to give him a written complaint about the incident. He did not show any interest in getting to the bottom of the issue, nor did he accompany me to the police station,” Sorathiya said.

The police file

In his complaint to the police, Sorathiya, who is a first year student and had come to stay in E block, room number 520 two days ago, said, “Around 8.30 pm when he was watching his two roommates playing chess, Satyam Modi and Neel Patel along with a few others came there from another room where they had had a drinking session. Modi, who was drunk, asked Sorathiya to show respect to his seniors and address him as Bhai.

Neel Patel, who too seemed to be under the influence of liquor, slapped him. A frightened Sorathiya, mentioned this to some other students who were from his region. Soon a call was made to the local police control room. Sorathiya and some other students then went to meet rector N K Arora, who asked him to give a written complaint about the incident. Later he filed a non-cognizable complaint against Satyam Modi, Neel Patel and four others at the Gujarat University police station.

Police Inspector S J Vagasiya, who is looking into the complaint, said going by the version of complainant and others, the incident does not appear to be that of ragging. “We are trying to reach out to the students named in the incident but they are not traceable,’’ he said.

Action taken by college

According to L D Principal M N Patel the matter has been handed over to the anti-ragging committee, which will give its report within a week. “Before drawing any conclusion we should await the findings of the report,” he said. Both, Satyam Modi, and Neel Patel who are in seventh semester will not be eligible for placements, he said.

During the initial probe it has been found that Modi was staying illegally in the hostel. Neel Patel, who also faces allegations of ragging, meanwhile has been barred from the hostel till the anti-ragging committee submits its report. Parents of both the students have also been summoned.

The principal also assured that if it is proved that the students were involved in ragging, their admission would be cancelled.

No takers for rector’s post

NSUI, meanwhile, has given a memorandum to the principal seeking removal of Rector Dr N K Arora for his “inaction and irresponsible’’ behaviour. The memorandum said he showed no concern towards the affected students and did not act responsibly.

Even though present rector is facing allegations of indifference and being hand-in-glove with the students who were indulging in unlawful activities including boozing, there has been a reluctance on part of the university staff to take up this post.

Apart from dealing with as many as 1,000 students in the hostel, many of whom would not mind flouting their proximity to political parties and heavyweights, the post comes with no incentives such as house rent allowance and restriction on movement. With hardly any member of the faculty showing willingness to take up the responsibility, they are forced to take up this post, with an assurance of a change after a while.

College authorities suggest that instead of such a ‘stop-gap arrangement’ the responsibility to manage college affairs should be handed over to a trust or private security agency.

Anatomy of clashes

L D College of Engineering hostel, which houses 1,000 students from different regions is not new to brawls and incidents of violence. Till four years ago, students, coming from same regions were allotted rooms in the same block.

For instance, students coming from Mehsana and Saurashtra were given rooms in A and B blocks. Similarly, C block was allotted to those from outside the state and D block was kept for students of polytechnic. However, when it was found that the students from particular region and communities started getting into brawls after making their groups, a segregation was done.

Authorities also maintained that around 35 IAS officials have accommodations near the hostel and there is a Public Works department office near to the campus. It was not possible to restrain the movements of vehicles, which made it easy for several unwanted elements to gain access into the campus, they said.

(Inputs by Vijay Zala)

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