Anti-ragging law should be passed in parliament


Despite continued occurrences of ragging in several educational institutions the parliament of our country seems to turn a blind to the gravity of the matter. The latest incident of ragging took place in Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University where two students reportedly fell ill after being bullied by fellow students. The university authorities, however, did not take any action against the accused students. Not surprising, as ragging is practically a regular feature in educational institutions in our country.

It is clear that most of the incidents of ragging are not highlighted in the media. The guardians and victims avoid taking any action, fearing repercussions throughout their time in the institution. The younger generation is only too aware of the consequences of any protest. There has obviously been no tangible awareness within the government or the society of Bangladesh, even after the murder of Abrar, a BUET student killed by fellow students last year.

Education minister Dipu Moni said on 10 October that it was not possible for the government alone to stop ragging. A social movement must be created to prevent it. But our society is politically divided. And in a divided society, dealing with a crisis like ragging is not very easy. If we want a social movement, there should be unrestricted freedom of speech. There should be civil organisations. We cannot deny the fact that our civil and social organisations are weak and ineffective.

Locally respected leaders of political organisations can play an effective role in preventing social disorders like ragging and women oppression. But the reality is the political organisations have steadily shied away from exercising ethics and values in recent years. In fact, political parties have protected many miscreants who violated law and order for years. And due to unforeseen political interference, it has become difficult to claim justice for now. That is why it is not surprising that the government showed slackness in implementing a High Court directive issued on 12 January to stop ragging in various educational institutions.

The rule also asked why it would not be instructed to introduce effective methods to protect the lives and dignity of students from ragging. The home secretary, education secretary and the chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) were asked to respond to the rule within four weeks, but they did not do it. It is hard to expect that the attorney general's office will take initiative for a speedy hearing. Rather, we should keep an eye on whether they plan to postpone the hearing. In such a situation we hope the court will provide an appropriate order to stop ragging. However, this would be more effective if the national parliament comes forward. A vacuum is created if the lawmakers do not do what they are meant to do. That vacuum cannot be filled by the laws made by the court.

The miscreants who commit ragging operate under the shield of the ruling parties. Any educational institution is forced to remain captive to such a power. Therefore, the government should take initiative to stop the ragging. It will convey a good message to the society. We expect the parliament to act immediately instead of waiting for the High Court's rule as there is no specific anti-ragging clause in the current law.

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