The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stop ragging now, you say how

New Delhi, Dec. 22: If you have an opinion on how ragging can best be prevented or punished, the government wants to hear you.

The human resource development ministry has set up a committee to chalk out a uniform strategy to prevent ragging and punish offenders across the country. Citizens have the chance to meet members or send their suggestions to the higher education director in the ministry.

Ragging, often gruesome enough to drive victims to suicide, has been on the rise but no central or codified norms exist to tackle it. Institutions follow their own strategies to fight the offence, which is worst in hostels at medical and engineering colleges.

Some colleges suspend the offenders for a period while some others expel them. Many just turn a blind eye to it to protect the institution’s “reputation”.

Ministry officials say the responsibility to prevent ragging rests primarily with institution heads, who often hush up the incidents. When the new norms are framed, such officials will be in trouble.

“Students’ unions, too, can play a crucial role in discouraging ragging. The committee will address all these issues,” a ministry official said.

The panel will hold public discussions on all aspects of ragging in Delhi, Chennai, Bhopal, Patna, Cochin, Guwahati, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. The dates are yet to be decided. It will also hear students, experts and academics before working out its recommendations.

The seven-member committee, headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan, comes in response to a Supreme Court order. It will examine the “means and methods to prevent ragging, possible action that can be taken against persons indulging in ragging as well as the institution heads,” the ministry says.

“For the first time, there is an attempt to have a uniform set of laws to prevent ragging,” another official said.

The ministry says the panel, like the J.M. Lyngdoh committee on campus elections, is part of its efforts to cleanse higher education. The Lyngdoh panel has handed its recommendations to the Supreme Court and the ministry.

The anti-ragging committee members include IIT Kanpur director S.G. Dhande, Maulana Azad College dean A.K. Agarwal, Ramjas College principal Rajendra Prasad, and HRD ministry joint secretary Sunil Kumar.

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