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Campus politics cloud over second-year ragging

Rage over ragging, under a cloud of campus politics, rocked Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital on Wednesday, with members of the Students Federation of India (SFI) disrupting classes and demonstrating in front of the principal’s office.

The point of protest: the alleged ragging of second-year students by their seniors, over the past few weeks. In a written complaint to college principal Deepti Basu, SFI union members alleged that 10 or 12 second-year girl students had been “forcibly stripped” and “physically assaulted” repeatedly in the hostel. They accused a section of third-year girls of carrying out the atrocities.

None of the girls who had allegedly been ragged, however, lodged a complaint.

Principal Basu called an emergency college council meeting on Wednesday and decided to investigate the matter thoroughly. Some council officials, however, felt that the entire episode had more to do with on-campus politics and SFI’s territorial tussle in the girls’ hostel.

“I wonder why second-year students would be subjected to ragging, when there were several first-year students present in the hostel,” observed a senior teacher and member of the anti-ragging council.

SFI state secretary Apurba Chatterjee, however, said that “several of the tortured second-year students” had joined the hostel recently. “We have reason to believe that these students were subjected to mental trauma and physical assault by their seniors during the senior-junior interaction programme, which spun out of control. We, therefore, decided to lodge a complaint and also call a strike,” said Chatterjee.

An SFI spokesperson on campus maintained that the college authorities were turning a blind eye to “regular incidents of ragging” in the girls’ hostel. “They (the victims) are afraid to lodge official complaints and so we have decided to take up the matter,” he asserted.

From early on Wednesday, SFI activists stopped students from entering class and announced that a one-day token strike was being observed to protest ragging in the girls’ hostel. They proceeded to gherao the principal’s office, demanding immediate action against the “guilty seniors”.

The college then got in touch with senior health department officials at Writers’ Buildings, from where health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra urged the authorities to probe the matter. “We will take action on Thursday,” said principal Basu.

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