Bengal varsity students on indefinite hunger strike
Hundreds of students of Jadavpur University in West Bengal have started an indefinite relay hunger-strike demanding reconsideration of the suspension of two engineering students for ragging, a student said Saturday.
The relay hunger-strike, launched Friday evening after withdrawing a siege to the unversity offices, is to demand a fresh probe by the anti-ragging committee and discuss the details with the students.
The agitating students alleged lack of transparency in the probe held earleir against the two suspended students.
The report of the anti-ragging committee of the Kolkata-based university branded a minor altercation between junior and senior students in the hotel as ragging, without proper investigation, they said.
The members of the committee included the vice chancellor, registrar, an elected student leader and few teachers.
"The incident occurred in the last week of August. But the involved parties had already come to an amicable solution and made up. We had no idea when one of them filed a formal complaint," a fourth year student of the civil engineering department told IANS.
"It was not ragging...but the anti-ragging committee concluded so, without proper investigation. There was no transparency in the process," he said, while requesting anonymity.
The two students were suspended Sep 11 after a second year engineering student gave a complaint to the University Grants Commission (UGC) that he was beaten up last month.
The UGC forwarded the complaint to the university authorities, who constituted a probe panel which found the two students guilty of ragging.
A final year student of construction engineering was suspended for two semesters, and a fourth year student of the printing technology department was handed a one-semester suspension.
The agitating students claimed that during a meeting of the anti-ragging committee Sep 10, in the presence of the elected student member, the members declared the suspension order for the accused.
"It was not discussed as an on-table agenda...however the members put forth a resolution declaring the punishment of the offence. The student representatives were not informed about any inquiry that had taken place or any other details. We came to know on that day," said a student.
The fact that the matter had come through UGC was not specified to them, said the student.
"It was a shock to us...as after finding out the details we came to know it was not ragging by any means. So how could they hand out a punishment without properly digging out the details," he said.
The students from the engineering and humanities departments started an agitation Sep 11 afternoon, laying siege to the Aurobindo Bhavan, the university's administrative block, after allegedly being denied a chance for talks.
As part of the relay hunger-strike, around 400 students have been sloganeering from time to time and holding aloft posters demanding reinstatement of their two suspended colleagues. A section of students has been camping outside the office.
They do not want the "hostel episode" to be included within the purview of ragging.
The protestors are also demanding that the matter be handed over to the hostel disciplinary committee for a final judgment.
"We will accept the judgment after it is properly looked into...as we are strictly against ragging. We only wish that the matter is thoroughly investigated," said the engineering student.
The varsity administration has refused to yield to the demands of the students, who sat on the hunger-strike in groups of 20 for a 12-hour duration per batch. They plan to continue the strike until the authorities give in.
(Posted on 21-09-2013)