A first year student of the Government Polytechnic College in Kottayam has been hospitalised with kidney damage after he was brutally ragged by eight senior students, putting the spotlight once again on a menace that has claimed many lives in Indian varsities.
The student OS Avinash was admitted to a hospital in Thrissur and was put on dialysis after doctors diagnosed him with kidney damage. According to the student, he and eight others were stripped and made to do rigorous exercises for more than five hours on December 2. The Police said five of the nine students had surrendered, and they are on the lookout for the remaining four.
The police have filed a case of attempt to murder and ragging under the SC and ST Act (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Talking about the incident, the student who belongs to a dalit family in Thrissur said, “We were made to do somersaults and similar acrobatics for hours at a stretch. When some of us started falling down, they still didn’t let us go. We were asked to pretend swimming in the floor. Some of us were locked inside a closet and made to sing aloud…all this for around 5 hours till early morning.”
When the student fell sick at home and had to hospitalised, the father enquired about the incident from his friends on December 15 and a case was filed the next day. This isn’t an isolated incident of a case of ragging gone bad.
On December 18, a marine engineering student tried to kill himself in Kochi after he was allegedly beaten up and tortured by students on Friday. His father said the boy consumed pesticide and was admitted to a hospital in Mangalore. Police booked three students under attempt to murder charges.
Earlier this month, a ragging incident was also reported at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technical University – Hyderabad (JNTU-H), where a student was allegedly beaten up by seniors for failing to finish an assignment given by the seniors. A case was registered by the police against the students.
Earlier this year in Kerala, a 19-year-old nursing student suffered massive organ damage after being allegedly force-fed toilet cleaner by her seniors.
Ragging is banned in Indian universities, but despite interventions from the government and the Supreme Court, students entering college are often subject to physical and mental harassment by senior students for ‘fun or entertainment’.
In 2009, the University Grants Commission had set up an anti-ragging helpline after the death of a first year medical student in Himachal Pradesh – Aman Kachroo. The death had triggered national outrage and a panel appointed by the Supreme Court had found that the teenager had repeatedly complained to college authorities to ask for help, but he was ignored.
The regulator revised its guidelines again early this year and said that ‘any act of physical or mental abuse based on colour, race, gender and even appearance of a student will be construed as ‘ragging’.’
The UGC has an anti-ragging helpline for students to report cases of ragging, but a study funded by the body this year had found that even though 40% students faced some form of ragging, only 8.6% students actually reported them.