The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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College fresher fate at courtroom door

The outrage over ragging knocked on a judicial door on Wednesday, with a public interest litigation (PIL) being filed in Calcutta High Court.

Petitioner Tapas Bhanja is seeking judicial intervention in the controversy over on-campus brutality in some educational institutions of the city and the districts. Bhanja cited “at least eight recent cases, in which innocent students had fallen victim to ragging”.

The petition will come up for hearing before the division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice A. Banerjee on August 22.

The furore over ragging has been sparked by the treatment meted out to Sayandip Bandopadhyay by his seniors at Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College.

Sayandip was allegedly stripped, beaten with iron rods and slashed with blades and knives, before being forced to pen a suicide note.

Then, two students of the Indian Statistical Institute were allegedly violently ragged by some seniors.

In his plea, Bhanja pointed out that for some students, ragging was “fun” and they were oblivious to the harm it may cause a fellow student. “This is a dangerous trend and has to be stopped at any cost,” he demanded.

Bhanja went on to allege that ragging was on the rise, since the court’s previous order had not been carried out.

“The government’s indifferent attitude towards addressing the issue may have aggravated the problem,” he observed, urging the court to seek an explanation from state chief secretary S.N. Roy for the administrative failure to comply with the 1994 anti-ragging order.

A division bench, comprising Mukul Gopal Mukherjee and Gitesh Ranjan Bhattacharya, had then directed the state government to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC) so that ragging could be treated as a cognisable offence, that would enable the police to take up such cases without waiting for specific complaints.

In the order, the bench had also directed the government to appoint a high-level commission of academicians, senior police officers, sociologists and psychiatrists, in a bid to frame a strict policy for eradicating ragging on campus.

There was also a suggestion that sub-committees be set up at the institutions to deal with the problem. The bench had directed social organisations and government-owned media, like All India Radio and Doordarshan, to regularly beam mass awareness programmes against ragging.

The petitioner on Wednesday demanded that schoolchildren be made aware of the consequences of ragging right from the primary level.

Bhanja even made a case for senior bureaucrats, political leaders and academicians to be made parties to the case so that a “uniform policy” could be chalked out “to tackle the social evil”.

He served copies of the petition to respondents, like higher education minister Satya Sadhan Chakraborty, Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim and chief secretary Roy.

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