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Student undergoes brutal ragging in TN college

A Ganesh Nadar in Coimbatore | October 16, 2008 13:43 IST

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16-year-old Sanjay looks forlorn as he sits on his bed at the Coimbatore Medical College hospital, at a time when others his age are in college. Till recently, Sanjay was a first year engineering diploma student at GNTC-NTTF college, but today he is part of a grim statistic: the only ragging case from Coimbatore district this year.

In fact, so severe was his ragging that Sanjay left college, and filed a police complaint against his seniors and college authorities.

Sanjay's trauma began on September 17 when some senior students stripped him and urinated on him in the name of ragging. He lodged a complaint with the college, and next day the seniors were suspended for three weeks. The parents of the victim and the seniors met at the college, apologies were made and a compromise was arrived at. The suspension was lifted on October 6.

Two days later the seniors beset Sanjay again for complaining against them; this time it got violent, he was cut all over with a blade and, he charged in a police complaint, sexually assaulted.

As the principal was not present on the campus at the time Sanjay complained to the warden, but no action was taken. He then called his father Sreenivasan, who rushed to Coimbatore after advising Sanjay to go to his cousin's home in Coimbatore.

When Sreenivasan saw how traumatised his son was, he was shocked. Sanjay had blade marks on his hands, chest and abdomen, and was admitted to the hospital. Sreenivasan then filed a First Information Report in the Sulur police station, under whose jurisdiction the college falls, against the students, warden, manager and principal. A copy of the FIR is with rediff.com.

The four students named in the FIR are Mohammad Shafi, Aneesh, Nandakumar and Mohan, and the warden Anil Kumar.

The police immediately swung into action and arrested the four students who have since been remanded to judicial custody. They could not arrest the warden, manager and principal, as the police says they are absconding as of Thursday.

But the director of NTTF, K Venugopal, told rediff.com from his office in Bengaluru [Images], "They are not absconding," despite the superintendent of police, Coimbatore district, G Karthikeyan insisting to this correspondent on October 15 that "they were absconding".

"The bail petition will be moved on the October 16 and the hearing will be on October 17," Venugopal said. "Yesterday I have suspended a student in Chennai for a year for ragging. We are a 49-year-old institution running colleges all over the country. I have dismissed two dozen students over the last few years for ragging. If they had given me a chance I would have taken stern action. They did not even give us 24 hours, but rushed to the police. I cannot comment on the matter now that the police are investigating."

Asked what action he was contemplating, Venugopal said, "I was there for two days. A special team is investigating the matter. They have been there for four days and will stay till they find out the truth. We will take strict action against all offenders."

Among the investigating team sent by the NTTF Bangalore headquarters is the Tellichery principal of this institution. He told rediff.com, "We heard about the warden drinking with the students only today. We are investigating the matter. If found true he will be sacked. We have no issues if he drinks at home. He cannot drink with students or come drunk into the college."

Meanwhile, Sanjay was discharged from hospital, but his discharge certificate did not have any signature. So Sreenivasan approached the police who re-admitted the boy in the same hospital.

This correspondent found Sanjay brooding, scratch marks clearly visible on his hands. He tried to smile but it wasn't forthcoming. In a low voice he related this horrifying tale.

"I joined college on June 20 and for three weeks everything went well. After that the seniors started coming to my room. After 10.30 pm they used to drink liquor with the warden and then come to me.

"What initially started with groping led to homosexual advances. They started sodomising me regularly. I did not know what to do. One day they urinated on me. I could not bear it and complained. They had been molesting me for a month when I complained.

"Eleven senior students harassed me. As we had compromised with seven of them, the police did not take action against them."

However, Coimbatore's SP G Karthikeyan told rediff.com, "We have taken strong action against the four students. Now you are naming seven more. You cannot make a different complaint everyday. They had reached a compromise with certain students, so we left them out."

But Sanjay's father differs. He says, "We compromised against ragging and that urinating incident. We did not compromise on homosexual behaviour. At that time he did not mention sodomy. He just said sexual harassment. He told my nephew Balaji the truth only after he was admitted in hospital. He did not tell us, he told his cousin. When we heard about it we were shocked. This institution is famous worldwide, its certificates are recognised in Australia [Images], but they cannot protect their students! We came from Kerala [Images] to Tamil Nadu because this course 'tool and dye-making' is available only here."

On October 15, Sanjay wanted to go home. The hospital doctors told him that he had to give in writing that he was well and wanted to go home, but the boy refused. Sreenivasan said, "As a doctor you should know he is well and give him a certificate, not the other way round".

The chief doctor told rediff.com, "He was admitted a second time. That is why we are asking for a letter. Readmission a second time means that we discharged him wrongly the first time and the police admitted him again. That is why we need a letter from him saying that this time he is well."

So Sanjay wrote out the letter which was counter-signed by his father. The chief doctor had told them categorically, "Otherwise you can stay here for as long as you like."

The discharge certificate this time had a signature. It admitted that Sanjay had blade marks on his hands, chest and abdomen but said there was no evidence of homosexual activity. There was no bleeding, laceration or any evidence of forceful entry.

Sanjay sticks to his stand that they did sodomise him. Karthikeyan said, "We have charged them under the anti-ragging act and also under section 377 of the IPC, 'unnatural sex acts', we are aware of the complaint."

He added that this was the only ragging complaint from the district this year. The reasons for ragging, he said, were, "Ego and the desire to dominate."

About preventive action he said the district collector had issued a circular to all colleges that ragging would not be tolerated and stern action would be taken against offenders.

After being discharged from the hospital Sanjay went with his parents and cousins to collect his original certificates and clothes from the college. He was accompanied by Inspector Natarajan, the human rights inspector of rural Coimbatore, and sub-inspector Jansi from the Sulur police station, in case he was picked on again.

The principal in-charge, also the institution principal from Tellicherry, returned his certificates and clothes. He was upset that Sreenivasan had written ragging as the cause for leaving, and offered to give a transfer certificate where the reason for leaving would be given as 'complaint against ragging'. Srinivasan said he did not want their certificate.

"I have paid Rs 70,000 as fees and they are planning to return only Rs 11,000 and that too later by post, this is not fair," muttered Srinivasan.

A year lost and a lifetime to face, where crude remarks and insinuations will become a way of life. Not fair on a 16-year-old.






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