Rags to stitches

The death of 19-year-old medical student Aman Kachru of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda in Kangra on March 8 exposes the vulnerability of freshers.

Written by Sameer Kumar Sharma | Ludhiana | Published: March 29, 2009 4:39:16 am

In the recent times,ragging has claimed many a life. Sameer Kumar Sharma visits city’s two prestigious medical colleges to ascertain whether enough is being done to clamp down on this dreadful crime

The death of 19-year-old medical student Aman Kachru of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda in Kangra on March 8 exposes the vulnerability of freshers. It has certainly made the colleges in the state reflect on the preventive measures that need to be taken to prevent the occurrence of such incidents.

Fortunately enough,however,the medical colleges in the city have not witnessed any such tragedy,thanks to good interpersonal relationships between students and teachers and seniors and juniors. Apart from having laws against ragging formulated and making them more stringent,experts say,it is the best way to deal with the scourge.

So how do medical colleges in the city prevent cases of ragging? At the Christian Medical College and Hospital,a group of six students is assigned to be included in the family of a faculty member,called the foster family. The foster family gets together once a week to share their concerns.

“Besides,we have a centre for counselling services in the college called Mitra under the Fellowship Department and we run different counselling programmes. There are nine caregivers in Mitra and three of them are dedicated to the students’ counselling while others deal with patients’ counselling,” said Reveran Stanley Thomas,Chaplin,who heads the counselling services.

“Even though it’s completely banned here,there are chances that it may still take place. And,therefore,we try to prevent it by installing CCTV cameras in both boys’ and girls’ hostels and deputing security guards round-the-clock,” said Rajoo Singh Chhina,Medical Superintendent at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

But he adds,”What is really effective is having a teacher assigned as the local guardian to a group of students. This way,we promote easy communication between students and the faculty members. The students are also given the contact numbers of the senior members of the faculty when they join,” he added.

When questioned,many of the students say the ragging is prevalent in the colleges in the city too,but all of it is done in a positive way and within limits,without causing any physical or mental abuse to the students.

“We do have some kind of ragging in our college and I guess it exists in many of the colleges in the state in this way,but thankfully it is not practised in its negative sense,” commented a medical student from a city college requesting anonymity.

He says,“It is not that bad here. When we were freshers,we were also subjected to ragging but that was only a way of introducing ourselves. The seniors and juniors can really know each other well by having an interactive session,but it should be nothing more than an interaction.”

“We only have an introductory session wherein we ask freshers to introduce themselves and sing or dance at the most but that too under the supervision of faculty members,” another student said. “In cases when it has become ugly,the seniors get angry at juniors who walk by without showing respect and showing tantrums. But that too does not mean one can cause physical abuse or mental trauma,” she added.

Are there laws banning ragging?
The bill to prevent ragging which calls it a punishable crime with up to three years imprisonment and Rs 25,000 fine,is still to become a law.

Harpreet Sandhu,a local lawyer and former additional advocate general,Punjab,Ludhiana stated,”Even recently,the news of a girl student’s suicide bid after she was asked to strip naked and dance in an engineering colleges in AP shocked us again. It is high time that ragging was considered a crime against humanity and further.

“Although the Supreme Court has described ragging as a “human rights abuse”,it is unfortunate that the authorities in the institutes of learning are not using the safeguards”. He adds the anti-ragging law “Prohibition of Ragging” is urgently required. If specific Anti-Ragging law is established,with provisions of strict punishment,it can ensure to protect the students from becoming victims of ragging within their institutions.

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