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March 15, 2009

Horror tales

Two heinous instances of ragging in educational institutions of the country have been in the news recently. An agricultural engineering student in Andhra Pradesh, in an attempt at suicide, consumed pesticide after being humiliated during ragging by senior students. Fortunately, she was rushed to hospital and survived. Another student, 19 year old Aman Satya Kachru, who had been studying in the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Himachal Pradesh, was not so ‘lucky’. Some senior students, apparently in an inebriated state, had beaten him so severely during ragging that he suffered head injuries and later died in hospital. What is so frightening about this tragedy is that the victim had filed a complaint with the authorities of the institution against the four hoodlums who had been indulging in regular ragging. The complaint specifically mentioned about all night thrashings without even the guards of the hostel coming to the aid of the helpless freshers. Even more frightening is the fact that the Principal of the institution had informed the police only after the death of the student, leading to suspicion that he had tried to shield the culprits because the father of one of the hoodlums was a friend of his. Making matters worse, a criminal case is pending against this gang of four after complaint of alleged torture lodged by some students last year.

These two horror tales are just the tip of the ice-berg. The reality is that, despite strictures passed by the highest court of the land, the vile practice of ragging persists in educational institutions across the nation, hitting the media headlines only when it leads to tragedy as the one that befell Aman. Ragging is supposed to be a fun ritual to initiate new students to an institution and help them assimilate. But, in the hands of sadistic bullies, it can turn into a weapon of mental and physical torture which may not only inflict indelible scars upon young psyches, but occasionally be lethal. The Supreme Court has ruled that extreme punishment must be meted out to students proved to have been involved in ragging, no matter how “harmless” or “light-hearted” it might be. Yet management of most institutions take a lackadaisical attitude towards this affliction, in a “what cannot be cured must be endured” kind of philosophy. The logical conclusion that can be drawn from this is that not only the perpetrators, but the administrators of the institution to which they belong, must be held culpable in cases of ragging. Only through initiating penal action against institutional heads who fail to protect their wards against ragging, and making examples of them, can this menace be contained to some extent, if not totally eliminated. ASSAM TRIBUNE

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