An Unfortunate Case of Ragging in a Girls’ Hostel of Burdwan University
Yesterday, I was communicated about a very unfortunate case of ragging of some girls of the University of Burdwan, West Bengal. It was reported that four students of of M A first year (First Semester) had been living in a Girls’ Hostel where they were constantly harassed by their seniors. Coming from poor background and unexposed to urabn life-styles and etiquettes, these poor girls were taunted and ridiculed since they had come to the Hostel. The girls suffered but they tolerated this with the expectation that soon all this would end. But, this continued and this became more nasty and unbearable. They were physically harassed, constantly abused, called ‘Biharis, Hindibhashis’ who come to Bengal to cheat and capture the assets of the Bengalis, having no manners befitting a civilized human being and so on. It started with the coming of these girls in the Hostel in middle of October. After two weeks of constant harassment, two of these left the hostel and returned to their home, which is near Asansol. (Their friends say they have left their studies.)The other two remained in the Hostel and they faced the worst treatment. Finally, when all this became absolutely unbearable (the horrifying details of which can not be written here), these students dared to report to their Department teachers. Shocked, the teachers verified the report and found these newcomers’ report dependable. They, however, were reluctant to make it a big issue as this might take a Hindustani-Bengali overtones as the students who were being ragged were all Hindi speaking girls (called Hindusthanis in Bengal ) and the group which did it was all Bengali. But, as the application was so genuine, the teachers approached to the University authorities which took this case sympathetically and appropriately. It is said that an enquiry committee would be constituted and the guilty would be punished. While this was going on, one of these two unfortunate girls, unable to bear the pressure, broke down and so vulnerable she became physically that she was rushed to Burdwan Medical College where she is under treatment.
Meanwhile, the offenders, had decided to dilute the case by bringing charges of theft on these girls on 5th November when they came to know that these girls have reported this to their department teachers. Suddenly, this issue became the issue of stealing and the offenders – these two girls- must be punished ! It is interesting that the mobile and the keys of these girls have been snatched from them and they had been physically assaulted by a group of senior students. The charge is that these girls had stolen a half pant of a senior student!
In the late evening, when the incident became known to media people they flashed this news to all channels and this whole issue had been known to the public.
My worry is that what will happen to these two (and other two who had left the Hostel anticipating that worse is coming) girls. Will they be able to convince their poor family members that they should continue their studies living in the Hostel? I am worried.
This whole issue is very sensitive. The politicization of Bengal public space is so acute that every issue is an issue of politics and it may be the case where two political groups would take sides and the whole issue will become a matter of politics where the powerful group’s view would prevail.
Third worry is that the whole episode would leave a lasting impression in the minds of young girls of the Hostel and the University. One of the key issues of the complain of the girl was that only we four- Hindi speaking girls were targeted and no other fresher was subject of this ragging. Why? The four girls have been born and brought up in Bengal.
We sincerely wish the University authorities would take appropriate step so that incidents like these do not occur in future.