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Action plan to stem ragging
- Minister to meet institution heads on ways to curb menace

Calcutta, Oct. 28: After a missive last week on ways to tackle ragging in colleges with hostels, the higher education minister will tell heads of institutions about plans to put an end to the menace.

Satyasadhan Chakraborty will soon hold a meeting to underline the tough government stand. Secretary of his department Jawhar Sircar had sent a five-point instruction to all universities and colleges on steps to be taken to combat ragging.

Three incidents of ragging were reported from private engineering colleges in Jalpaiguri, Haldia and Kolaghat in as many months. “It is unfortunate that despite repeated directives to the college authorities, incidents of ragging are taking place. We want to ensure that not a single case of ragging occurs,’’ Sircar said.

According to higher education officials, the plans include separate hostel accommodation for freshers. This would mean no fresher would have to share a room with a senior student. Introduction of night vigil in hostels is also on the cards.

Sports and cultural programmes, debates and seminars will have to be organised to bridge the gap between the seniors and the freshers, said the education missive. Voluntary organisations and NGOs would be roped in to devise ways to tackle ragging.

“We will hold orientation programmes for the freshers and their seniors to build friendly relations, which will bring down the tendency to harm juniors,” said Amalendu Bose, the director of technical education.

Officials said college authorities have been asked to hold regular meetings of the anti-ragging committees and submit a monthly report to the higher education department. Besides, the authorities would have to report to the department the steps taken to prevent ragging and improve students’ relations.

There are 37 private engineering colleges across the state and all have hostels.

In the latest incident, Kaushik Das Mahapatra, a first-year student of the Institute of Engineering and Management, Kolaghat, was tortured by second-and third-year students. Kaushik was injured and had to return home. The college suspended two second-year and four third-year students for a semester for being part of the incident.

“We have punished the students involved in ragging in all the three incidents. We have put six students of Jalpaiguri engineering college behind bars and the process is on to suspend the hostel superintendent,” Sircar said. “But we do not want to harm careers. So we want to stop the practice by involving students and teachers,” he added.

Sircar said the authorities of private colleges have been categorically told to follow the government’s instructions and take steps to stop ragging.

Though the government has implemented the West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Education Institutions Act, 2000, it has not stopped. According to provisions of the law, anti-ragging committees were set up in all colleges and universities but they lacked the teeth to stop it.

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