Students facing ragging in any educational institution can now get immediate assistance by just giving a call on a dedicated helpline which was launched today ahead of the commencement of the new academic session.
Seeking to check the menace of ragging in campuses through use of technology, the government today made functional the helpline through which students can register complaints and get assistance from authorities and police within minutes.
"The helpline will operate round-the-clock and function as a watchdog. Once a student gives a call and registers a complaint, the process of giving him assistance will start within 15 minutes," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said after launching the helpline.
The measure comes close on the heels of a string of shocking ragging incidents reported from across the country. While a medical student died in Himachal Pradesh in March this year, a student of a Hyderabad-based private engineering college committed suicide last week after allegedly being ragged by seniors.
The Supreme Court in May this year had asked the government to implement tough measures to check the menace.
Education Consultancy India Ltd (EdCIL) and BSNL will operate the helpline on behalf of University Grants Commission (UGC). The UGC will create a database compiling information provided by students in their affidavits during admission. The information will be stored in an IT-enabled web portal.
When a student calls up the toll free number 1800-180-5522, the agents at the call centre will ask him about the issue and details. Then the complaint will be registered. The call will be assigned a unique number which will be given to the complainant for future tracking.
"The institutions will have their own anti-ragging committees. Once the information about an incident of ragging is received, it will be simultaneously relayed to the head of the institution, warden or officer of the hostel, district authorities including the Superintendent of Police for action," Sibal said.
Students can also file complaints through email at helpline@antiragging.Net, Sibal said. Another helpline will be soon made functional. The number of the second helpline will be 155222, he said.
To a question whether he too faced ragging during his student days, Sibal replied in affirmative, but said that it did not lead to any untoward incident.
"When students rag somebody, they tend to forget the limit and inflict injury. At times, this can destroy careers," the minister said.