Sher-e-Bangla Medical College: Why do authorities encourage ragging? 

Prothom Alo illustration

After five students of Kushtia Islamic University were permanently expelled for torturing a resident student, it was thought that such harassment and ragging would stop in all universities and their affiliated colleges in the country. But that hope is a far cry, as proved by the incident that occurred in the residential hall of Sher-e-Bangla Medical College in Barisal. 

A female student there was called to a room in the hall twice and physically abused, tortured, threatened, and had her phone searched by two senior students of the same hall. They claimed to be the leaders of the Chhatra League.

The first time, two students were tortured in the room of a Chhatra League leader. Afterwards, when the two students shared the matter with another student, one of them was called again and mentally and physically tortured. She was admitted to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital when she became unconscious at one stage. 

Notably, the High Court ordered the formation of anti-ragging committees in all educational institutions, especially in all public and private universities and affiliated colleges at the university level in 2020. However, most of the concerned educational institutions did not take it into account. 

The leaders and members of Chhatra League have been allegedly involved in the torture of female students residing in Sher-e-Bangla Medical College and Islami University dormitories. These actions are reported to have been ongoing for a significant period, facilitated by their position of power.

Consequently, victims from both Islami University and Sher-e-Bangla Medical College have filed complaints with their respective authorities. Initially, the authorities at Islami University imposed lenient punishments on the accused individuals. However, under the directive of the High Court, they were compelled to impose more severe penalties. 

Regarding Sher-e-Bangla Medical College, several media outlets have highlighted that the college administration questioned the victim about her preference between seeking justice or receiving medical treatment. This implies that she may not receive medical treatment if she pursues justice and vice versa.

The college's vice-principal attempted to downplay the incident as a 'minor occurrence'. What's even more concerning is that journalists faced harassment while reporting on the incident. College teachers and a section of students attacked journalists. They broke a journalist's camera. 

This pattern of residential students enduring torture within one educational institution after another is deeply troubling. The actions, or lack thereof, by the administration of the residence hall at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College raise significant concerns. Shouldn't it be their responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their students? 

We believe the victim should receive appropriate medical care, and her safety must be a top priority. Moreover, those responsible for subjecting her to mental and physical torment, whether they are self-proclaimed leaders of Chhatra League or others, must face appropriate consequences for their actions.

We expect that the authorities at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College will take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of their female students. Any action taken should discourage bullies and promote a sense of security among the general students.  

In accordance with the directives of the High Court, anti-ragging or torture committees should be established within all higher educational institutions, including Sher-e-Bangla Medical College. This measure would help ensure the safety of regular students within higher education institutions.