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Years of mismanagement reduce Jadavpur Univ to suicide hotspot

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | August 19, 2023 04:54 PM

KOLKATA: Coming under the national scanner for all the wrong reasons seems to have become a regular affair for West Bengal. The latest is the mysterious death of a fresher student of Jadavpur University (JU), allegedly because of mental harassment and ragging by a group of senior students.

With arguments and counter- arguments flying thick over this tragedy, academic circles in the state feel that it is utter mismanagement on the part of the JU authorities to end the menace of ragging by adopting some simple applications following the example of several reputed universities and educational institutes at the national level who have brought down incidents of severe ragging to almost zero.

The first application point should be the students’ hostel of the university where the victim, who was yet to cross the age of 18, had to undergo such ragging. His body was found in front of the hostel on August 10.

The anti- ragging committee at the national level which was constituted under the chairmanship of former Central Bureau of Investigation director R.K. Raghavan had suggested a number of measures to prevent such incidents of ragging and harassment of junior students in the university campuses. As per the guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) based on the recommendations of the Raghavan Committee, separate hostel accommodation for first- year students from that of senior students should be organised.

However, from the death of the fresher it is clear that this recommendation for a separate freshers' hostel was completely ignored by the JU authorities. Now after the tragedy the JU authorities have taken some initiatives to separate the freshers' hostel but it is too late for the victim who came to Kolkata from a remote village in Nadia district of West Bengal for higher education.

The UGC has already sent two notices to the JU authorities seeking clarifications on whether their anti- ragging guidelines were implemented by the university.

Another irregularity noticed at the students’ hostel is the illegal occupation of beds and rooms by former students even months after they had passed out. They also acted as the final word in accommodation-related affairs in the hostels.

The four former students of the university arrested by police in this connection have been accused by the hostel occupants as treating the hostel virtually as their parents property even months after passing out.

Another major violation by the JU authorities in implementing the anti- ragging guidelines was the reluctance to install CCTVs within the university campus.

The root of such mismanagement can be attributed to the fact that the JU has been operating for quite some time in a virtually headless state without a vice- chancellor. The chair of one of the two pro vice- chancellors is also vacant. The registrar of the university, Snehomonju Basu was on medical leave when the mishap took place on August 10 and she returned only on Monday, four days after the incident.

JU lost the chance of getting a permanent vice- chancellor because the recruitment was done without following the norms laid down by the University Grants Commission. After the retirement of the previous vice- chancellor Suranjan Das, things were managed for three months in an ad hoc manner by extending the term of Das but as an interim vice-chancellor.

Later Governor C.V Ananda Bose appointed the pro-vice-chancellor Amitava Dutta as the interim vice-chancellor. But Dutta resigned from the post arguably because of the tiff between the Governor’s House and the state education department over the Governor’s decision to appoint interim vice- chancellors for a number of state universities.

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