Kolkata: Stating that the Centre has taken the death of a student at Jadavpur University allegedly following ragging and sexual harassment “seriously”, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said that he has asked the UGC to take the strictest action as per law in the case.
Condemning the 17-year-old boy’s death at a hostel just three days into his first-year undergraduate course in Bengali department, he said that the incident is very worrisome.
“I have asked the UGC to take the strictest action as per law,” he said.
He asserted that the young student lost his life due to ragging and said that whatever steps are required to be taken against the menace as per the rules of the University Grants Commission (UGC) will be taken.
“Questions are being raised whether an anti-ragging cell was there (at the university) and if so, what were its activities, if CCTVs were in place or not,… why outsiders were allowed to stay in the hostel,” Pradhan said while speaking on the sidelines of a programme here.
It is alleged that several former students of the varsity stay in hostels and a section of them rag freshers.
The union minister said that the UGC is not satisfied with a report given by the university authorities over the boy’s death after falling from the second-floor balcony of the main boys’ hostel, located outside the campus, on August 9.
The UGC had made certain suggestions on the anti-ragging system, the minister said, adding that these include the installation of CCTV cameras, a separate cell to deal with ragging cases, and a communication facility.
“The University Grants Commission has sought a response from the university on what steps it has taken to implement these suggestions. The UGC has taken the matter seriously, and we have also taken it seriously,” Pradhan said.
There is no place for ragging in educational institutions, he said.
The UGC had voiced dissatisfaction after getting the preliminary report from the university on the incident, labelling it as a “generic” one, an official of the statutory body said in Delhi.
A JU official said the university authorities have responded to queries “within the regulatory framework”.
“We have mentioned what had been done and the reasons for what could not be done,” the varsity official said.
The prestigious 67-year-old state-run university in Kolkata also sent an exhaustive report to the UGC on multiple queries about the alleged ragging and sexual harassment of the undergraduate student that led to his death, as directed by the statutory body.
Asked whether the Centre will take any action, Pradhan said, “It is a state university and the West Bengal government must take action against the perpetrators.”
Holding that several activities were made which were contrary to the UGC rules, Pradhan said that the Education department of the West Bengal government has a responsibility towards it.
“It will have to take action. The government here has the responsibility to act against any anti-India and undemocratic activities,” he said.
Reacting to the Union minister’s comments, senior West Bengal minister Arup Biswas said that the state administration does not act considering the political beliefs of anyone.
“We take action as per law against any offender,” he told reporters.
The police have so far arrested 13 people, all former and current students of the university, in connection with the death of the student.
The boy fell from the second-floor balcony of the hostel on the night of August 9 and died the next day during treatment in a hospital.