Jadavpur College dying | Ragging rage

5 days after the dying of a first-year pupil at West Bengal’s Jadavpur College (JU), a brand new hoarding on campus declared in daring, crimson and black letters: ‘Ragging: A Prison Offence. The Supreme Court docket of India directs establishments to expel college students discovered responsible of ragging.’ Additionally on show had been names and phone numbers of twenty-two members of the college’s Anti-Ragging Committee.

Going by the College Grants Fee (UGC) directive that each one academic establishments within the nation observe August 12-18 as anti-ragging week, the timing of the message was on level. Maybe the hoarding was commissioned earlier than a pupil misplaced his life allegedly on account of ragging on the college. On this new context, it turned an eyesore, a reminder that JU had failed to guard a boy who would have turned 18 in two months.

As college employees carried ladders to mild one of many hoardings at gate no. 3 of the college, Pijush Gayen, a pupil of the linguistics division, watching this stated, “These posters ought to have been put up earlier than the first-year college students began coming to campus; now they appear like a merciless joke.”

Within the early hours of August 10, a first-year pupil of the Bengali division fell to his dying from the second flooring of the college’s boys’ hostel, located lower than 100 metres off campus, subsequent to the Jadavpur Police Station.

He had attended courses for under three days. “He was very proud of the lecturers. After his first day in faculty, he known as to say that he appreciated Kafi Sir’s class,” his father stated. Abdul Kafi is a well known trainer at JU’s Bengali division and was among the many few college members who rushed to the hostel within the early hours of August 10, when he heard the information.

Regardless of his shock and grief, the scholar’s father, who works in a cooperative financial institution in Nadia district, had reached out to him on the hospital and advised him that his son, part of a batch of 60 to 70 college students, had beloved his class. “There was just one lecture [for the students of the first year] which I took within the three days. I used to be his trainer for under 50 minutes,” Prof. Kafi advised a Bengali tv information channel, poignantly.

Political tussle

This week, the scholars of JU seethed with anger and poured it into that quintessential Bengali method of registering it publicly: protests. Slogans of “Inquilab zindabad (lengthy reside the revolution)” and “Hallabol (elevate your voice)” rend the air outdoors the primary entrance of the college’s administrative block, Aurobindo Bhawan. Extra posters and graffiti have come up throughout the politically lively campus, which has all the time been dotted with wall writing proclaiming the names and celebration allegiances of pupil leaders.

“We wish justice for the homicide of our brother,” learn a poster put up by the Arts School Scholar’s Union. “We wish a ragging-free campus,” learn one other. College students’ unions led one procession after one other, going across the 67-acre campus. Academics beneath the banner of JUTA (Jadavpur College Academics’ Affiliation) additionally introduced out a procession, albeit a silent one.

As the scholars continued with their high-pitched sloganeering, a gaggle of supporters of the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), the scholar wing of the ruling celebration, tried to power their method into the executive block. When college students of the Left unions resisted, a conflict broke out and a few college students fell to the bottom. Supporters of the TMCP blame the Left college students’ unions and their insistence on not putting in CCTV cameras as a cause for the dying. Amid ongoing protests, a political battle can also be on for a little bit of college area. Regardless of being in energy for 12 years, the TMCP has not made a dent in JU.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s declare that “Marxists”, her celebration the Trinamool Congress’ “primary adversary”, had been answerable for the dying, has precipitated the state of affairs. The warmth of the incident at JU is being felt in campuses throughout the State, the place supporters of Left college students’ unions and the TMCP have clashed.

Hostel crunch

“The college’s hostel allocation committee ought to convene a gathering and segregate hostel amenities for undergraduate college students,” a protesting pupil advised a gaggle of journalists, insisting that the primary situation confronted by college students shouldn’t be misplaced within the noise.

Jadavpur College has 14 hostels (4 for women and 10 for boys) throughout its two campuses in south Kolkata and Bidhannagar (Salt Lake Metropolis) with a complete capability of 1,876 college students: 1,254 for boys and 622 for women, as per the JU web site. Solely 20% of the 11,000 college students of the college can avail themselves of hostel amenities. College students and lecturers say that greater than 50% of those that are enrolled within the college aren’t from Kolkata, and since hostel amenities value a lot lower than paying-guest lodging, hostel rooms are significantly in demand.

“Jadavpur College has not invested in hostel amenities. Our college students are pressured to remain in rented lodging in areas like Santoshpur and Garia, adjoining the college,” conceded Prof. Omprakash Mishra, one of many senior-most college members of JU within the division of worldwide relations, and former vice chancellor of North Bengal College. “For first-year college students the state of affairs is far worse, as hostels aren’t allotted to them till the top of the primary semester.” At present, the college doesn’t have a vice chancellor. Paradoxically, JU is at quantity 4 on the Authorities of India’s Nationwide Institute Rating Framework (NIRF) 2023.

Prof. Mishra identified that hostels are overcrowded, with three or 4 college students sharing a room meant for one or two. The scholar who died was in A2 block of the primary hostel, which has 58 rooms for 180 college students. The scholar was pressured to stick with seniors, he stated. It was solely after the dying that first-year college students had been shifted to the New Boys’ Hostel on college premises.

The UGC mandates separate hostels for first-year college students. Clause 6.2 of the UGC’s Regulation on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Greater Instructional Establishments, 2009, factors out that on admission, each pupil might be given a printed leaflet detailing when and whom to show to for steering, together with wardens, heads of establishments, members of the anti-ragging committee, in order that freshers needn’t look to seniors for assist.

Opposite to UGC pointers, first-year college students routinely strategy seniors for hostel lodging. The daddy of the scholar had requested the seniors to care for his son. No hostel room was formally allotted to the deceased pupil.

Amitava Datta, the professional vice chancellor had, on August 10, introduced an inside committee to investigate into the “extraordinarily unhappy incident”. The committee is to submit its report in 15 days.In the meantime registrar Snehamanju Basu on August 17 issued orders for a number of safety measures together with the set up of CCTV cameras at strategic factors on the college campus and instructions that anybody coming into the campus between 8 p.m. and seven a.m. produce an id card.

Supporters of a Left­wing students union in a scuffle with police outside Jadavpur University.

Supporters of a Left­wing college students union in a scuffle with police outdoors Jadavpur College.
| Picture Credit score:
Debasish Bhaduri

In the dead of night

On the evening of August 9, when the scholar was allegedly ragged by a gaggle of seniors, he reached out to his mom. “Ma, I’m very frightened right here,” he had allegedly stated over his cell phone, in Bengali. When the dad and mom known as once more, considered one of his seniors, Sourav Chowdhury, took the decision and advised his mom there was nothing mistaken and that her son was busy with mates. Chowdhury was the primary to be arrested.

In all, 9 individuals have been arrested, 5 college students and 4 who had not too long ago accomplished their programs however had been nonetheless staying on the hostel.The police pressed fees beneath Sections 302 (punishment for homicide) and 34 (frequent intention) of the Indian Penal Code within the FIR drawn up on the premise of a grievance by the daddy. In response to the police, the 9 individuals had been current on the hostel when the scholar fell to his dying.

Most of these arrested hail from rural areas, and are available from households with comparable backgrounds and earnings profiles because the sufferer. Whereas Chowdhury, 23, had accomplished his M.Sc. in Arithmetic 2022 hails from Chandrakona in East Medinipur; Saptak Kamilya, 27, who studied environmental research, is from Egra in Purba Medinipur; Suman Naskar, 26, from the philosophy division is from Mandirbazar in South 24 Parganas; and Asit Sardar, 21, from the Sanskrit division is from Kutalai in South 24 Parganas. They’d accomplished their programs however nonetheless lived within the hostel. The opposite 5 college students arrested are Deepsekhar Dutta, 19; Manotosh Ghosh, 20; Mohammad Asif Afzal Ansari, 22; Mohammad Arif, 18; and Ankan Sarkar, 20. As per the police, these current within the hostel on the time of the incident have stated that the scholar was ragged, tortured, stripped, and repeatedly requested if he was homosexual.

Chairperson of the West Bengal Fee for Safety of Little one Rights Sudeshna Roy has stated that the organisation was of the preliminary view that fees beneath the Safety of Youngsters from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, be drawn up in opposition to the accused.

“After the scholar fell, we tried to search out out what occurred. There was a crowd, and we weren’t allowed close to. The seniors had been engaged in a heated argument which we couldn’t perceive, after which a taxi got here and took him to the hospital,” stated Akash Sarma, a third-year pupil from the worldwide relations division.

Sarma, from Cooch Behar district and a boarder, stated many dad and mom have been asking college students to return dwelling to a neighborhood faculty. “How will dad and mom permit kids to remain within the hostel after this?” he stated, including that his household doesn’t have the means to hire a spot in Kolkata.

In the meantime, police investigations have revealed that after the scholar fell, seniors held a number of conferences and mentioned what they’d inform the police. The gate of the primary hostel was locked, stopping them from coming into, and the police have filed a separate case concerning this.

“I used to be advised by the scholars and the hostel superintendent that I ought to lock the gates in order that the media and police can not enter the hostel,” Jayanta Kumar Pal, the safety guard on the major hostel, stated. Dipayan Dutta, the primary hostel superintendent, denied giving any such instruction and stated that about 10 minutes previous midnight when he reached the hostel, the gate was locked, and the injured pupil had already been taken to the hospital. The superintendent admitted that these staying on the hostel would drink inside their rooms and that he didn’t intrude, fearing altercation and a backlash from college students.

Digging deeper

The tragedy has raised questions on administrative lapses. Registrar Basu and dean of scholars Rajat Ray are additionally being questioned by the police. In a letter dated August 16, the UGC stated that it was not happy with the report submitted by Jadavpur College on the dying of the scholar. The statutory physique regulating larger schooling within the nation stated that it had discovered the response “very generic in nature, principally mentioning therein principally the reactive approaches adopted within the matter fairly than proactive measures taken to curb the menace of ragging.”

State Schooling Minister Bratya Basu and different leaders stated that there was “utter lawlessness on campus for years”. In 2014, an incident of sexual harassment of a pupil and subsequent police motion contained in the campus throughout had paralysed JU for months with the Hok Kolorab (let there be clamour) protests.

“The Trinamool Congress is utilizing the disaster to assault the Left pupil politics,” stated Tarun Naskar, a professor of mechanical engineering, who retired in Could. Prof. Naskar, related to the All-Bengal College Academics Affiliation, stated ragging has been a “perennial downside” to which authorities have turned a blind eye.

In October 2022, IIT Kharagpur in West Bengal had erupted in protests over the dying of 23-year-old Faizan Ahmed who was discovered useless in his hostel room. The Calcutta Excessive Court docket, after stating that Faizan’s dying was a “clear case of ragging” had ordered an in depth investigation. A second autopsy was performed after exhuming the physique in Could 2023 from Dibrugarh in Assam, which revealed that the scholar’s dying was “homicidal” in nature. On August 16, the Calcutta Excessive Court docket directed the SIT (Particular Investigation Workforce) to go forward with the probe on the premise of the second autopsy.

Jishu Debnath, a visually impaired Ph.D. pupil from the Bengali division, has spent greater than a decade at totally different hostels in JU. “I needed to depart the hostel in 2014-15 as an undergraduate pupil, as I couldn’t take the ragging. I returned a yr later as a postgraduate pupil, however nothing had modified. There are explicit dates within the calendar like Mahalaya when marathon ragging classes are held in hostels,” he stated.

In November 2022, Debnath and some others approached the dean of scholars, when a visually challenged pupil was ragged. “They didn’t act in opposition to the perpetrator and the complainant was harassed. Over time the authorities have merely refused to behave,” he stated.

In case of an issue, please attain out to the UGC’s 24×7 anti-ragging helpline at 1800-180-5522.

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