Nine years after it was launched, the anti-ragging helpline recorded the highest number of complaints in 2017, thanks to better outreach with students. The helpline recorded 901 complaints in 2017
Nine years after it was launched, the anti-ragging helpline recorded the highest number of complaints in 2017, thanks to better outreach with students. The helpline recorded 901 complaints in 2017, 74% more than 2016.
“The main reason for this change is that we have started tapping students in rural parts of the country, which is encouraging more and more to register a complaint,” said Rajendra Kachroo, who founded Aman Satya Kachroo Trust in the memory of his son who died in March 2009 after being ragged at a medical college in Himachal Pradesh.
Kushal Banerjee, from Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE), Kolkata said another reason for higher complaints was that the students can now register their complaints anonymously through emails.
Over the years, maximum complaints consistently come from technical and medical institutes in five states—Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
In Madhya Pradesh, the authorities’ claimed that most complaints were because of personal enmity between student groups. Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) public relation officer Ajay Verma said, “In most of the complaints, the probe committee found that the complaint was lodged by a group of students to settle scores …”
In Uttar Pradesh, the officials said in most cases action has been taken against erring students.
“Such is the intensity of ragging in these states, especially UP and West Bengal that we have also received complaints from first-year post graduate students, which is very rare. The high density of students in these states, and lack of proper awareness, adds to the trouble, said Banerjee.
Prof Manoj Dixit, vice-chancellor, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Faizabad, suggested that the rise could be because students are not afraid of repercussions.
“There is no fear of getting severely punished for involvement in ragging… most often, the accused get away for want of evidence,” Dixit said.
Institutes play a much bigger role in curbing this menace.
The public outrage after Aman’s death brought to the forefront the problem of ragging at educational institutions.
The UGC was the first to issue guidelines in 2009 followed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Experts say many institutes, especially in rural areas, failed to implement these norms that include separate hostel buildings for freshers, setting up of an anti-ragging cells on campus and creating awareness among students.
“The rules put an equal, if not more, responsibility on the institute in case of delay in registering a case. Therefore, many institutes prefer hushing up the issue,” added Banerjee.
“Institutes need to stop considering ragging as a complaint against their institute, and instead treat it as a case of human rights violation. Only then will we see a bigger change in the society,” said Kachroo.
In September 2017, 22 students of the IIT Kanpur were suspended for sexually harassing a group of first-year students. The case made headlines after a professor from the institute talked about the case publically.
While 16 students were suspended for three years, six were suspended for one year. For the first time, their punishment also includes compulsory community work for the accused.
“These students will work with NGOs for a period of time, so they can see for themselves the toll ragging takes. Some of these students will be under our supervision…” said Banerjee.