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AASU call to make wardens answerable

Guwahati, July 26: The All Assam Students Union (AASU) today demanded that the state government make heads of educational institutions and hostel wardens accountable for incidents of ragging in their domain.

Representatives of the union met Assam chief secretary Prem Prasad Verma with the demand today and the latter reportedly promised them to do whatever possible within the purview of law. They also asked Verma to take the initiative to constitute district-level cells to monitor ragging incidents, install a helpline for affected students and also instruct institutions to take preventive measures.

Talking to the media today, AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya said though anti-ragging laws dictated punitive measures against students indulging in ragging, these said nothing about institutional heads and hostel wardens. “Making the heads and hostel wardens accountable will help check ragging in educational institutions,” he said.

The union’s president, Shankar Prasad Roy, said frequent incidents of ragging despite presence of anti-ragging laws was a cause for concern. “If we do not end it right now, it will spread,” he added.

The student leaders said the Assam Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1999 had not categorically mentioned actions that should be taken against the heads if ragging took place in their institutions.

Supporting a zero tolerance policy against ragging, the union leaders said it was a social evil that should be eradicated from society as soon as possible. “We are not happy with the anti-ragging measures taken by educational institutions in the state. Most colleges in Assam do not have anti-ragging squads and committees. We want them to be stricter,” he said.

“In 2006, when Kulendu Pathak was the vice-chancellor of Dibrugarh University, action was taken against six students in connection with a ragging related incident. We stood by the university on that decision and will do so if any institution works to stop ragging,” he added.

Classes in colleges under Dibrugarh University started from July 16 while August 1 is the date for institutions under Gauhati University.

The union leaders said newcomers and seniors must get introduced but no one should indulge in activities prohibited by anti-ragging laws in the name of introduction.

Bhattacharjya said their members would go for an anti-ragging awareness campaign using various means, including street plays, across the state. “Our members have already started some anti-raging awareness activities. This campaign will be intensified,” he added.

The union leaders said they would be submitting demand letters to all district administrations in the state on July 29, urging them to implement the anti-ragging laws.