Express press service
BHUBANESWAR: In just over three months, Odisha has seen the second death of a suspected student due to ragging. On Saturday, a first-year history student at BJB Autonomous College ended her life after leaving a suicide note in which she accused three of her seniors of harassment. In April, a freshman MBBS student from Bhima Bhoi Medical College and Hospital in Balangir district died by suicide after allegedly being tortured by elderly people. In this case, the student had informed his parents of the harassment before taking extreme measures.
Even after the two deaths, the Department of Higher Education maintained a stoic silence on the matter. Although every college – general and technical – has anti-ragging cells, the threat seems to have no end in the state. In fact, Odisha has consistently remained in the top 5 states in the country for ragging according to the University Grants Commission‘s Anti-Ragging Hotline (1800-180-5522).
The Supreme Court has imposed several regulations that every institution of higher education must follow, including the submission of anti-ragging affidavits by students during college admissions, regular visits by anti-ragging cell authorities in hostels where newcomers have been accommodated, providing them with information brochures/booklets containing UGC anti-ragging hotline phone numbers and installation of CCTV cameras in common areas of colleges and hostels .
BJB College sources said there was only one functioning CCTV camera in the hostel where the victim was staying. Currently, a student can file a complaint with their institution’s anti-ragging cell or the UGC helpline or by sending the complaint to [email protected] BJB Hostel Superintendent Jyoti Rath said all newcomers to the hostel have been instructed not to tolerate rags and to contact her or other college authorities if they are in tatters. “If she or her parents had informed us of the harassment she was experiencing, we would have taken action,” she said.
However, most institutions appear isolated from anti-ragging standards, with the exception of submitting anti-ragging affidavits upon admission. In the case of the Bhima Bhoi MCH student, there was evidence of harassment by elderly people, but so far no action has been taken against the principal who is responsible for the safety of students at the school. ‘hostel or students charged,’ sources said.
Although dozens of rampant cases are reported every academic year in Odisha, the only strict action taken so far has been the rustication of 12 VSSUT-Burla students for assaulting a third-year student on September 22 of the year. last. Earlier in 2019, the same institute levied a meager fine of Rs 2,000 on each of the 52 students accused of ripping 50 juniors. The New Indian Express contacted Higher Education Department Secretary Saswat Mishra over the matter, but he did not comment.
Meanwhile, members of the BJB College Students’ Association held a rally to demand justice for the deceased. The three elderly people who allegedly caused him mental harassment should be identified and strict measures taken against him, they demanded.