Cause of concern: Ragging incidents go up in 2021 | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Cause of concern: Ragging incidents go up in 2021

Dec 20, 2021 12:12 AM IST

Cases of ragging on campus have been a matter of concern in higher education institutes for years now and while the pandemic brought such cases in control last year after colleges were pushed online, 2021 witnessed double the number of cases compared to 2020

Mumbai: Cases of ragging on campus have been a matter of concern in higher education institutes for years now and while the pandemic brought such cases in control last year after colleges were pushed online, 2021 witnessed double the number of cases compared to 2020. Experts have highlighted that while the total complaints registered this year is still only 50% of what was registered before the pandemic, the fact that maximum of these cases are of online harassment makes this a bigger problem.

Cause of concern: 2021 witnessed more ragging cases than 2020
Cause of concern: 2021 witnessed more ragging cases than 2020

According to statistics revealed by UGC’s www.antiragging.in as well as the Aman Satya Kachroo Trust—reachable through the national anti-ragging helpline number 1800-180-5522—a total of 511 cases were registered across the country this year compared to 219 registered in 2020. The cases reported in 2019 and 2018 were 1,070 and 1,016 respectively.

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“There was a case in the college where a male student was passing unsolicited comments against a female classmate, either during class or on WhatsApp groups, and this happened more than once. The female student brought this to our notice and we immediately took this matter to the institute’s anti-ragging cell that resolved the matter,” said the principal of a suburban college. The male student was not allowed to appear for his end of semester exams.

(Shilpa Mathur)
(Shilpa Mathur)

After the initial days of lockdown, colleges first reopened for virtual classes in July-August 2020. Several colleges in the city as well as state received complaints of online harassment and while in some cases it became difficult to find the perpetrator, strict action was taken against the perpetrators in several cases.

Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College had suspended three of their students for sharing the login ID and password of their lecture with outsiders, who in turn joined the class and disrupted the lecture. Similarly, four female students of the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) reported harassment at the hands of exam proctors who were reported to have passed comments about the way these students looked during the exam and sent messages to these students’ personal mobile numbers. All four proctors were fired and a case of sexual harassment was registered against all four perpetrators.

While most higher education institutes have been conducting lectures online for the past 20 months, medical institutes had started in-person classes earlier this year, which has accounted for maximum complaints of ragging once again this year. As per information shared by the UGC, 181 of the total cases of ragging reported this year came from medical colleges alone.

“Before the pandemic, ragging was always prevalent in residential institutes, majorly in the medical and engineering institutes while cyber bullying would be considered online ragging. With classes going online, more cases are being reported from several colleges and sadly the line between ragging and sexual harassment is diminishing,” said Meera Kaura Patel, advocate, Supreme Court and Honorary Legal Head, Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE), a non-profit organisation focusing exclusively on protection of lives and dignity of students in education institutes.

Recently, a college in Mumbai registered a case with their anti-ragging cell when a student was accused of sharing obscene drawings in the middle of a class presentation. While no First Information Report (FIR) was lodged, the perpetrator was suspended.

“The anti-ragging regulations have been crafted in a way where the primary responsibility to prevent such cases falls on the head of the institute, and most education institutes end up keeping the case covered in a bid to save their own reputation. This has, more often than not, led to lenient punishment against perpetrators,” added Patel. She said in some cases, victims have also been coaxed to drop their charges. “Need of the hour is for state governments to make ragging a cognisable offense and as the same time, for colleges to ensure violence free education to students. Only then can ragging be solved.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

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