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UGC orders campus camera

- Move aimed at preventing ragging

The University Grants Commission is sending circulars to universities asking them to adopt various anti-ragging measures, such as installation of CCTV cameras on campus.

Students of Jadavpur University had gheraoed the vice-chancellor and senior officials for 52 hours in September 2010 to protest the installation of such cameras on the campus.

Presidency University is the first institute in the city to receive a copy of the circular. Calcutta, Jadavpur and Rabindra Bharati universities will get copies soon, said a source in the UGC.

“The circular which came by courier on Wednesday asked the authorities to set up an anti-ragging mechanism. We have been asked to install CCTV cameras at all vital points as part of the measures,” said Presidency registrar Prabir Dasgupta.

The Supreme Court had in in 2009 banned ragging, following which the UGC issued a series of directives to prevent such unlawful activities on campus.

This is the first time since 2009 that the UGC has asked for installation of CCTV cameras on campus to prevent ragging.

“Presidency has received several circulars from the UGC related to ragging since becoming university. This is the first time that we are being asked to install CCTV cameras,” said registrar Dasgupta.

Among the other measures mentioned in the UGC circular are installation of alarm bells which ragging victims can ring to alert the authorities and and surprise checks in toilets, canteens and common rooms (see chart).

An attempt by Jadavpur University to install CCTV cameras on the main campus in 2010 had sparked wide-spread protests.

Students from all three faculties — engineering, science and arts — had gheraoed then vice-chancellor P.N. Ghosh and other members of the university’s executive council for 52 hours, demanding revocation of the decision to instal CCTV cameras.

The protesting students saw in the move an attempt to curb their freedom on campus.

“We don’t support installation of CCTV cameras. We will again launch a protest if the authorities try to implement the UGC order,” a fourth-year engineering student at JU said on Thursday.

Some Presidency students, too, said the CCTV cameras would invade their privacy.

Sources in the UGC said the CCTV cameras would be effective in curbing ragging as the footage would serve as an authentic proof of harassment and torture of freshers by seniors.

“The cameras would instil fear among the students,” said a UGC official.

Top-rung academic institutions, such as the IITs and the IIMs, have round-the-clock camera surveillance on their campuses.

In Bengal, Kalyani University, Burdwan University and Visva-Bharati’s Rabindra Bhavana, which houses Tagore’s memorabilia, have installed CCTV cameras, sources said.