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Ragging incident forces IIT-Delhi scholars to duck for cover
Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi |
August 14, 2003 18:56 IST
Publicity is nothing new for students of Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, but in this case they would rather mediapersons left them alone. The reason: a 1st year student complained to the police that he was asked to strip during ragging.
Prakash Rajpurohit, a fresher who joined the hostel on July 28 but ran away on August 5, had on Wednesday complained that he was asked to strip, hold the genitals of other male students and enact a rape scene.
"There were other things too," said Rajpurohit, who recovering from the trauma at his residence in Brij Vihar locality in Ghaziabad, a satellite town of Delhi. Doctors are counselling him.
College registrar A S Malhotra said this was the first case of ragging of this magnitude at IIT-Delhi. The seven boys' hostels, two girls' hostels and one for married couple scholars in IIT-D are home to about 3,400 students.
Well aware of the adverse publicity that follows such incidents, authorities are guarding the hostels like fortresses and students are not being allowed to talk to mediapersons.
When this correspondent entered the Aravali Hostel impersonating as a student, he found there was lot of fear among students and ragging was the only topic of discussion.
Ragging, which the students refer to as 'friendly introduction', takes place for 10 days culminating with the fresher's party in which newcomers are asked to dance, sing or perform anything of their interest. The best performances get prizes.
Justifying ragging, one third year student who had got a prize at the fresher's party for dancing when he was in the first year, said it was necessary for the overall development of the students.
"We get to know our seniors and learn a lot. We become bold and get exposed to the world," he said.
Claiming to know Rajpurohit, he said: "It appears he (Rajpurohit) was not exposed to hostel life. He never interacted with others. That is why he took everything so seriously."
Some of the freshers who spoke to rediff.com also expressed similar views.
Said a 1st year student of electrical engineering and resident of Aravali Hostel: "The general rule is that ragging will be held only in an open space. Freshers are not supposed to go to seniors' rooms. But many of us were taken into the rooms."
"They abuse you, say bad thing about your mother and sisters, ask you to repeat after them. But I believe this happens everywhere. Ragging here is quite mild as compared to other engineering colleges. Here, they do not hurt freshers physically."
"This guy may have been asked to strip or masturbate. If you don't want to do it, they don't force you. There are ways to escape. You need to learn that skill. But we all have to go through this. We will also rag next year."
But Malhotra has different ideas.
"Ragging is banned in IIT-D. Strict action will be taken against the culprits so that it is not repeated," Malhotra said.
The seniors seem to have got the message as all the students who spoke to rediff.com insisted there was no ragging in IIT-D.
"The issue is being blown out of proportion. There is no ragging here. It is just friendly interaction," said a third year student of computer engineering who is a resident of Niligiri Hostel.
A group of students were discussing the ragging problem outside the dinning hall of Aravali Hostel.
"One student was given salt and told it was a drug. He was asked to eat that. He was scared but he ate it," one said.
But when this correspondent tried to participate in the discussion, there was a complete silence.
"We don't know anything about ragging," insisted one student.
However, some students did come forward to discuss the issue, but on the condition of anonymity.
A third student of textile designing who resides in Aravali Hostel said: "This boy may have been ragged. But nobody is forced to strip."
"Many students are asked to strip, but if they refuse or say they are not comfortable, they are not forced to do anything. We all have been through that."
"The incident has tarnished the reputations of Aravali Hostel and IIT-D and we are scared that some people may be expelled," he said.
If strict action is taken, students cannot even protest, said one. "The administration is so strict that we cannot raise our voice," said another third year student and resident of Vindhyachal Hostel. "The institute sends letters to our parents saying strict action would be taken against those found indulging in ragging. One gets admission here after lot of hard work so we don't want to take any chances. We don't involve in any kind of mischief."
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