End of Road for Ragging? | Daily News

End of Road for Ragging?

Last week ended with some good news which will certainly be a relief for the innocent poor talented brainy children of Mother Lanka who do not have money to enter foreign universities. At least now they can have some protection by way of the law when they are forced to undergo ragging which even leads to some students’ committing suicide. Now their innocent poor parents who sacrifice their blood and sweat can be relieved knowing that their son or daughter who goes to the university hostel will return alive after graduation. A big thank you goes to the Higher Education State Minister Suren Raghavan for having the desire and courage to address this burning issue.

Last week, State Minister Raghavan said that the students who are found guilty of engaging in ragging within the premises of State Universities will be blacklisted from all State and Private Universities as well as foreign universities.

He stated that all those found guilty of being involved in any type of ragging will in the future be suspended from attending classes, their degrees declared null and void and they will also be prohibited from pursuing higher studies at local universities.

Action against offenders

He further stated that legal assistance will also be sought in the future to prevent offenders from seeking employment in the State sector. Ragging in all forms at State Universities should be totally eliminated. The present rules and regulations were sufficient to initiate stern action against offenders.

He stressed that his Ministry is in the process of initiating legal action against those behind the recent ragging incident reported from the University of Peradeniya.

The best part of his statement was connected to the existing law. He said that the existing laws are adequate to deal with this issue. All what innocent poor Sri Lankan students who wish to enter State Universities and their parents demand is that implementing the country’s existing law inside State Universities without treating those State University premises as ‘special no man’s lands’ and without treating undergraduates as ‘special kind of super human beings’ with special human rights and a special group of individuals who have all the right and power to ignore the country’s common law. All what the ordinary people of this country demand is treating all undergraduates as ordinary Sri Lankan citizens and not as a special VVIP group who can violate the laws of this country as their whims and get away with it.

Higher Education State Minister
Suren Raghavan

It was March 8, 1993, The International Womens’ Day. The time was 8.30 am. I walked into Sri Jayawardenepura University as a first year undergraduate and a fresher for the seniors. I underwent severe ragging for one year, fell physically ill, recovered, fought against raggers, won my lonely battle and lucky enough to be alive to graduate. My only strength was my own tactics and skills. Nothing or no one else helped me.

But just after nine years in 2002, Samantha Vithanage, a third year management student from my university was brutally murdered in broad day light by other students because he openly and verbally opposed ragging. According to eye witnesses he was stabbed and his head bashed with computers etc. They used pens, pencils and all the other sharp instruments available at their disposal to stab him. After he fell on the ground they battered his head with the computers, crushing his skull and brain. After that, they sat on the internal roads of the university premises and blocked the internal roads, preventing any vehicle from entering the main road and transporting him to hospital. The raggers made sure that he dies before he could be taken to hospital. So far ragging has killed over 10 undergraduates.

According to some graduates from the Peradeniya University, there was an instance, where raggers snatch ‘Mahapola Scholarships’ and bursaries of poor undergraduates in order to pay for lawyers and save the murderous raggers from prosecution. Some said the raggers killed the student and hanged him on a nearby tree. The body was found a few days later.

Barbaric ragging

State University raggers killed around 25 innocent poor undergraduates for nothing while making several other students permanently disabled (physically/mentally or both)! They did not stop there. They caused temporary disabilities and mental diseases in many undergraduates and chased away thousands of innocent undergraduates from State Universities forever even after they entered the State Universities with three A passes obtained after making tremendous sacrifices together with financial and other difficulties!.

The parents of the undergraduates have numerous sacrifices to send them to State Universities. There are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents who have died in pain after losing their loved ones to ragging or after seeing the tragic lives of the undergraduates who were left disabled in a wheelchair after ragging ordeal they underwent at State Universities. They were had to look after their disabled sons and daughters, (whose dreams were shattered by raggers) at an age their sons and daughters should be looking after them.

Ragging is all about a fatal well planned system of torture aimed at taking revenge from undergraduates who enter the State Universities from schools located in Colombo and the suburbs who are rich, English speaking, from well-to-do families, who believe in freedom, who love Western music, who love Western clothes and fashions, who are intelligent and who reject to give in to the sadistic demands of the seniors. The very poor students are another main target group. This is because it is very easy to create jealousy and rouse hatred in them using their economic and social status. This is the only way of taking undergraduates into the streets for protests against any Government.

The incident of 24-years-old D.K. Nishantha who died in 2014 after being sexually abused by senior undergraduates and abandoning the university education is very significant. He obtained three A passes and entered the Arts Faculty of the Peradeniya University despite many economic hardships.

It is very significant not because of the victim or the way he died. It is because of how the murderers faced the punishment given by the judiciary. They forcibly collected the Mahapola scholarship funds and all the other allowances received by undergraduates in order to pay for the legal costs. This injustice which is a pure violation of the law, rules, regulations, human rights, was not noticed by any authority or media. No media reported about this torrid incident except one Sinhala newspaper article.

Amali Chathurika made a remarkable turnaround before she died in 2015 at the age of 23 due to ragging. She was a student of Applied Science in the Sabaragamuwa University. Before her death, she wrote down very clearly who did what to her, with their names, ages, addresses and all the other details which helped trace those individuals at anytime, anywhere.

The most interesting fact is while all State University authorities give some ‘other mental / physical health reasons’ for all deaths of rag victims. Most of the time this is done in order to avoid a black mark. The best way of avoiding all troubles is denying the truth.

This well planned system of torture commenced in 1974 with the torture of a mathematics teacher at Kelaniya (then) Vidyalankara University. In 1975, it was Ms. Roopa Rathnaseeli who jumped from the top floor of a university building to escape ragging and then committed suicide in 2002 after suffering for 27 long years as a permanently disabled person. The list of undergraduates who died at the hands of raggers is very long. Among them are Chaminda Punchihewa (1993), Prasanna Niroshan (1993), S. Varapragash (1997), Kelum Thushara (1997), Samantha Vithanage (2002). Shanika Dilhan Wijesinghe (2019), Pasindu Hirushan (2020) were the recent victims of ragging. There are many others.

 

 


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