Towards the Right Direction | Daily News

Towards the Right Direction

The Budget will be presented to Parliament by President Ranil Wickremesinghe today. But we are not talking about the Budget. We are talking about the first step taken by the Government to retain a large amount of foreign exchange sent abroad for the higher education of Sri Lankan students studying abroad.

Sri Lanka will be able to save a large amount of foreign exchange due to this latest decision by handing over of all investigations connected to ragging related complaints to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

After hearing this piece of good news last week, a large number of parents expressed their gratitude to the Government, Ministers and all relevant authorities because now they do not need to worry about the precious lives of their children, who enter the State Universities for higher education. On the other hand, some of those parents who do not have the financial means to send their children abroad for higher studies have also expressed their gratitude to the authorities. They say their children can study safely in State Universities now with the assistance of the Mahapola Scholarship and Bursaries. “We were planning to ask our children to find jobs as we do not have the money to send them to seek higher education from the private sector,” they say.

Last week, steps were taken to hand over complaints related to all ragging incidents to the CID. This is the very first measure taken to stop the flow of millions of dollars abroad from Sri Lankan students who are compelled to seek higher education at foreign universities due to the fear of being subject to ragging at Sri Lankan State Universities. Now, all students who qualify for higher studies can freely enter the State Universities without any fear and obtain their degrees without having to risk their lives at the hands of a few raggers.

But this should not be the last step taken in order to eradicate brutal ragging from the State University System. There are many other steps that need to be taken. Handing over all investigations in connection with all ragging incidents to the CID is only the first step.

All possible measures should be taken to eradicate ragging with the intake of the next batch of students to State Universities. The current second year undergraduates take the lead in ragging at all State Universities with the support and approval of the third and fourth year undergraduates.

In addition, they are involved in severe ragging sometimes outside university premises. Taking revenge from freshers who come from well-to-do backgrounds is their main objective, but their other objective is to garner support for their protests and marches. To do this, they brainwash the freshers against the Government of the day.

Ragging is the main and only tool of two small political parties, one without any representation in Parliament and the other with just three percent representation. No other political party is connected to ragging.

The only tool those two small political parties use in order to prevent any Government from eradicating ragging is bringing undergraduates into the streets blocking the roads and causing an inconvenience to the public. In addition, they indirectly close down all State Universities by launching various protests and marches. They are now using new methods such as the occupying of State buildings or offices like they did a few months ago.

The Government should get ready to tackle these thugs. State Universities are also State owned institutions and not a ‘No Man’s Land’ or another ‘Area 51’. Therefore, there is no barrier to deploy the Armed Forces or the law enforcement officers inside State Universities. CCTV cameras can be installed. More security officers can be hired from private companies. There are about two or three security officers stationed at the gates at present.

If those measures are not feasible, then the freshers need to be allowed to bring a (father, brother, relative, boyfriend, private security guard etc.) into State Universities to protect themselves from the raggers. The main objective should be to protect the freshers. Only then will these raggers lose the ‘right’ to rag the next batch.

‘Human Rights’ bodies and the henchmen of those so-called bodies need to be tackled separately because the same thing happened when the country was faced with the LTTE threat. We cannot allow the raggers to rule the roost. What happened in the past, was that all started to talk about the human rights of terrorists and no one talked about the human rights of innocent ordinary people, the victims. Here, a recurrence of the past allegations can be leveled once the Government starts to take the remedial steps. Then they will start talking about the human rights of raggers and not about the human rights of thousands of innocent freshers and undergraduates.

A practical solution should be sought now for this issue before going into further steps.

All previous Governments which ruled Sri Lanka bowed down to the dictates of the two minor political parties and disregarded the plight of thousands of innocent undergraduates. But the current Government has taken the very first step by encouraging the victims to come forward and demand justice. Now the journey towards justice has commenced. It should end only after the desired results are achieved, that is fully protecting the lives of all undergraduates.



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