Colombo Telegraph

Ragging In Sri Lankan Universities (Trincomalee Campus)

By Hasmin Haniffa

Hasmin Haniffa

Tears are not new to me, it eases heart. But this time it has failed to do so. My sister left her higher education in Trincomalee campus due to severe ragging of so called protectors of free education “seniors”.

That was a pleasant morning, sister was so happy as she’s entering Trincomalee campus for her higher studies dreaming of becoming an English teacher. Everything was set. Bought a lot of items as she won’t be able to visit home often as it’s about 300km away from home. It was a Thursday and the journey has begun. I couldn’t join the family trip to Trinco as I had final MBBS exams.

Parents returned home in the evening handing over my sister to the responsible ones in the faculty so they would seriously look after her. She stayed at the hostel.

On Sunday night sister called me and said “It’s worse here, it’s a lot of ragging, very difficult to tolerate the way they behave and every one of us haven’t slept more than 1 hour in a night since I arrived here. You will recognize it seeing our eyes. Just now a batch mate took some pills to kill herself and some of us are going to hospital secretly for emergency medical care. Don’t tell this to anyone as we’re not supposed to tell these things to families”. I could clearly hear my heart beating after she said about the suicidal attempt, how much these children are mentally stressed. She continued,”Brother, we’re taken to the canteen early morning around 6.00am and all of us are packed inside. We’re not allowed to buy food from canteen, we can’t carry water bottles, we can’t even keep a handkerchief with us. And we’re not allowed to sit. When the food arrives at the table we have to squeeze it so it becomes to fluid state and comes through our finger gaps and later it’s thoroughly inspected by seniors weather the act has taken place properly, and if not under supervision it has been carried out. Then we have to eat it and I couldn’t because I became nauseous still I had to eat it. Yesterday we were kept at faculty canteen from early morning till the evening 5’O clock and Ragging was carried out. All of us were kept standing since morning to evening and then we were brought to hostel and we’re not allowed to sleep in there. We’re given various activities and essays to be written. We’re supposed to carry out some orders of seniors like knocking the sub warden’s room intermittently all night. And again in the early morning we have to go to canteen to get ragged. Some pretty girls are separated at times and taken privately to an adjacent place and a lot of boys were talking to them for hours and hours”.

On Monday morning she called me and said, “I feel some difference, I don’t think I would make it through here, come immediately to take me home”. I was horrified and I kept my final MBBS exams aside and rushed to Trincomalee early in the morning from Colombo. Just before I get down from the bus, warden who’s the Department head of Sidhdha medicine called me and said “can’t wait, come quickly by a three-wheeler”, and I became anxious hearing that. I arrived at the hostel premises soon as possible and I’ve witnessed that she has become restless and appeared fearful and she said, “Brother, we have to leave this place immediately”. I took her home, it’s around 1.00am when we arrived at home. And the following day she has got admitted to Kurunegala teaching hospital and I have informed the education minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam regarding this immediately.

My sister entered the faculty with lot of beautiful dreams in her heart. She’s a brilliant kid. She got 3″A” results for her A/Ls. And now in the name of free-education and some purposeless hidden agendas this free bird’s wings were chopped off. As a family we’re in a lot of pain and the most difficult situation of our lives. I had to witness a lot of tears. I don’t like to explain it further as my heart wouldn’t tolerate it.

I have found out that every year newly entered children leave the campus due to ragging. I met a boy who left 3 years back due to ragging. Sub warden said this year including my sister it’s 5 pupils. And some said we won’t come back and the true number is higher than this.

How much very beautiful dreams, how much effort of parents and their dreams of giving their child a better future become shattered. It’s not just one, its five shattered dreams, five parents and families with full of tears in their eyes with a lot of broken hearts.

When I’m talking to a retired Army personal who’s now a three wheel driver there whom I’ve hired to reach the faculty said, “I’ve witnessed some girls holding some other girls by their hair, and pulling to take them somewhere”. Boys come to girls’ hostel building call for them and take out the girls as they want and take them to the faculty. One person came and called all the junior girls to come out, but they haven’t, then another 5 came, the girls haven’t come out, and in minutes time came about 25-30 and threatened them to come outside the hostel and taken them to the gymnasium, as witnessed.

This ragging occurs in a systematic manner. Apart from physical Ragging a huge mental pressure is given to newly entered children up to a level they commit suicide and quit their education.
The so called “seniors” have shattered the windows of the examination hall in the faculty and set fire with tyres and black flags were put everywhere inside the premises demanding to continue ragging after some faculty inquiries.

I demand a maximum action from UGC and Trincomalee campus regarding this issue. Don’t give a chance, if anyone caught regarding a ragging issue dismiss them from university for life. Why to give a chance? Is that because anyone can torture anyone, no one cares? Is that because being a senior gives you the rights to kill a junior? Is that because a senior student can setup violence inside the faculty, no one can question it? Is that because a senior can treat a new student like a slave of last century, the world would keep silent regarding this? This type of shameful act is barbaric and the newly entered children are treated like slaves in universities. Where’s the human rights commission? Where are the responsible people? This is in a country we’re proudly talking about freedom.

I wind up with the conversation occurred between me and girls hostel security officers when I went finally to collect my sisters belongings, I asked ” You are the responsible ones, why not you stop them, why can’t you slap them twice when they come to take this children away to rag them?”. She answered, “Oh my god, they would kill us”. “Then why you guys here with a salary and a suit?”. “We are mainly responsible for these buildings here”, still I couldn’t figure out how to react to that statement whether to laugh or cry.

In the name of free education massive violence against humanity has been carried out in a systematic manner. Everyone think, tomorrow it’s your child going to experience this. Stand against ragging!

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