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Don't put up with ragging, complain

Baishali Adak, Oct 29, 2013, DHNS 19:20 IST
Awareness campaigns, stringent laws and arrests notwithstanding, cases of ragging in colleges resurface from time to time. Recently, the student of a private engineering college in West Delhi hung himself after allegedly being ragged by his seniors.

While instances of ragging and resultant psychophysical injuries is common, deaths and suicides have highlighted the worst consequences of this menace. It is especially common among boys, and in hostel scenarios, where the ugliest forms of ragging are known to take place. Educational heads and psychiatrists, though, say that there are ways to cope with such a situation. Inform your college authorities, confide in friends and certainly, don’t hurt yourself.

Ajay Govind, activist, Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE), says, “The biggest problem that a youngster faces in such a situation is in confiding in his parents. In India, we believe that boys don’t cry. Girls can still share their troubles with their mothers, but a boy, if faced with sexual ragging especially, hardly has anybody to go to. Parents also have a tendency to dismiss such episodes saying kuch din mein theek ho jayega which is very wrong.”

“The next problem,” he adds, “Is that of seeking professional psychological intervention. We have a longstanding mentality that whoever goes to a counsellor has to be mad. This is extremely damaging. If you are faced with ragging and have a problem opening up about it, please do visit a good counselor; it could be in your college or outside.”

Dr Sameer Malhotra, director, mental healthcare, Max hospital, informs us about the state of mind of a youngster when faced with ragging, “The practice of ragging, or hazing as it is known in the USA, can have disastrous consequences on a youngster’s mental health. The victim can lose self-esteem, self-worth and trust in relationships and society. He or she can have recurrent nightmares, suffer from depression and episodic anger. In cases of sexual ragging, boys often lose faith in their sexual identity.”

The worst occurs when the victim starts to victimise himself further. “Students, especially those living away from their families, start to internalise the happenings, constantly asking themselves: ‘why did this happen to me?’ The most important thing to remember at such times is that ragging is illegal; it is not a problem with you but with those indulging in such activities. They would most probably have done this before and continue to do it till you take action,” Dr Sameer adds.

Legal recourse is absolutely imperative in such situations. Tanvir Aejaz, lecturer, Ramjas College, who was also a part of the Raghavan Committee instituted by SC after Aman Kachroo’s death, says, “Head straight to the principal. As per the Raghavan Committee regulations, the head of an educational institution, whether government or private, has to lodge an FIR if something of this nature happens.”

“Secondly, don’t lose hope. Speak to a teacher you are close to. Colleges must also develop such a culture where students can confide in their teachers like guardians. Keep in mind the bigger picture – the ambitions with which you joined the institution in the first place, your achievements, friends and family. This is an extraordinary event and will pass if you don’t take it on yourself.”

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