If you call the University Grants Commission’s anti-ragging helpline, chances are, your complaint won’t even be lodged. Blame it on the near-impossible conditions that have been set for registration of a complaint.
The complainant has to be the victim or a blood relative, and has to provide exhaustive details — the contact number, address and email ID of the college/university and vice-chancellor, and the name, subject and year of study of the accused.
The toll-free helpline was set up in July 2009, under Supreme Court instructions. Of the 320 complaints it got till December 2009, only 178 were attended to, a Right to Information petition revealed. Of this, only 58 institutions gave any kind of response. And the guilty were punished in a mere 11 cases.
Not good enough when compared to the number of ragging incidents across the country. According to the Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education, an NGO, 88 ragging cases were reported by the media between July 2008 and June 2009; there were 12 ragging deaths and five cases of attempted suicide.
The centralised redressal mechanism is supposed to forward a complaint to the authority concerned within 15 minutes of receiving it.
It also has to keep a database of all educational institutions and police authorities.
"Any distress message should be simultaneously relayed to the head of the institution, warden… A genuine message of distress from a victim of ragging should make it obligatory for the head of the institution and civil authorities to initiate action," the court had said in its May 8, 2009 judgment.
"There is definitely scope for improvement. The process of contacting the heads of institutions takes a long time and needs to be quicker," said a senior UGC official who didn't want to be named.
Raj Kachroo, who lost his 19-year-old son Aman to a ragging incident in March last year and was instrumental in the setting up of the helpline, called it a farce.
"The helpline sends an email to the vice-chancellor or hostel warden once a complaint is lodged. Do they expect the authorities to check their mail in the middle of the night? They should be calling the authorities and the police," he said.