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The Devil Known As “Ragging” That Consumes Our Education System: 10 Terrible Instances We Forgot

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By Spandan Ghose Chowdhury:

During my initial days at college, which obviously was the time when ragging was legally banned, I saw six students of Architecture Engineering getting expelled from the Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) on charges of ragging. We were all stepping into colleges with different aspirations, but we all had one thing in common — the fear of getting ragged. Those first days – the days when a fresher does not even know who his /her classmates are — were days when we had to endure certain off the record assessments in order to be inducted as a proper junior or fellow of the institution.

Even after putting forth the fact that ragging is a punishable offence, it continues to show its ugly head of existence in educational institutions across this country. Students of the senior classes often forget the suffering that they might have gone through in their past years and continue the ‘legacy’ of ragging. And these tales of torture and disgrace leave behind a group of mentally and physically paralyzed juniors and sometimes expelled seniors.

Here is a list of exceptional episodes of ragging, which itself is not exceptional.

1. Aman Kachroo, 19, died after being ragged by seniors in the hostel of Rajendra Prasad Medical College and Hospital due to a brain haemorrhage. After a 15 month trial, four students who were accused for ragging and death of their junior were sentenced to four years of jail after being held guilty by a fast track court in 2010.

2. Two Malayali engineering students of Gnanamani Engineering College, Salem, were brutally tortured and thrown off a running train near Erode in January 2012. The police filed a case under the IPC 307 for an attempt to murder against the electronics and communication engineering students of the same college. The duo surrendered after the High Court summoned the first accused, Akhil.

3. Kumudini Wathsala De Silva, a first year student at the Ruhuna University, suffering from a spinal injury, was among the 400 students who were crammed into a canteen on December 21, 2012. She told a senior that she was suffering from a spinal injury caused during a leadership training. But a senior pushed her forward despite that. As she did, so she knocked her leg against a cement stool and the pain was so unbearable that the girl fainted. She had to go for a series of treatments at the National Hospital, for severe pain and difficulty in walking.

4. A first-year engineering student in Gurgaon, allegedly ragged by his seniors, was found in an unconscious state with multiple injury marks on his body outside his college in March this year. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a critical state. The victim later claimed that even though he complained about the repeated ragging to the college authorities, they did not take any action.

5. A 19-year-old Business Management student sustained burns during an alleged episode of ragging by senior students at Tumkur in Karnataka — as his relatives said — for not attending a function at the college organized by his seniors, following which he was admitted to a hospital in January this year.

6. A first year student of the premiere School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi was ragged and left with injuries for which he needed surgery in January this year.

7. Siddhanta Mundra, a second year student of mechanical engineering of Jadavpur University Kolkata, lodged an FIR at the Kandi police station in Murshidabad, a district of West Bengal where he lives, alleging that he had to leave the university because of severe ragging at the hands of the senior students in the hostel, where he was staying.

8. In 2011, Somya Singh who hailed from Patna and was a first year B-Tech engineering student at a private college in Bhankrota area in Jaipur died after succumbing to injuries inflicted due to ragging that occurred the previous evening. Her father filed a complaint in the Police Station after this dismal incident.

9. In 2009, Akhil Dev, a first year student of BBM at PSG college of Arts and Science was allegedly thrashed and punched in his eyes by five senior students for his refusal to part with Rupees 3000, following which the boy’s vision was affected.

10. A shocking incident of a student losing her voice took place at the hostel of Gayatri Junior College at Gotlam in Vijayanagaram district on July 19, 2012. In her written complaint to the police, the girl alleged that her roommates had gone for dinner and some girls entered her room and tried to throttle her with a rope when there was a power-cut in the hostel.

Reports of ragging have now been an integral part of any newspaper/news channel. And these grim incidents show how deeply it is embedded in the whole education system. Students who have enough guts to speak about the atrocities that they had to put up with, come in the limelight. Other stories remain in the dark because victims simply have to swallow the abuses.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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