POHOTTU AS USA’ S PROXY Part 8Lb
Posted on August 11th, 2022

KAMALIKA PIERIS

JVP ragging in the University started in the 1970s. G.R.Morrel recalls that at University of Kelaniya where he taught as an instructor in the late 70’s, the Students’ Council was in the hands of the JVP.   They ran the campus mainly through intimidation.

New students were ragged mercilessly, and staff members who opposed the ragging were  threatened. in 1974 A group of  young mathematics teachers who were admitted to campus for a diploma course were dragged to the dark basement of the Science faculty and brutalized. Ragging is too polite a word for the violence that was enacted.

 JVP took over the Inter University Student Federation (IUSF) in 1976. The home page of the IUSF says the Inter-University Student Union was created by the student unions in the state University which delivered free education says IUSF in its website. IUSF has three objectives it said ,fighting unconditionally for solving the problems of the oppressed people in the existing socio-economic system, fighting unconditionally to secure the right to free education and fighting for the solution of academic and welfare problems in universities.

I am unable to find any instance where the IUSF has worked for the betterment of the university or society. IUSF  is   known as an aggressive  organization which organizes public demonstrations and sit ins. IUSF also is  considered to be behind the murderous ragging going on Sri Lanka‘s universities .

In 2002 IUSF   was accused of the murder of Samantha Vithanage, a third year Management student of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, who pioneered an anti-ragging campaign in the university. Samantha was killed on November 7, 2002 while in a discussion to stop the brutal practice of ragging in the faculty.

Samantha was the leader of a group of students opposing ragging at University of Sri Jayewardenepura while General Students Union (Progressive Front),   the dominant student group      supported ragging.

On November 7, 2002, the anti-ragging campaigners sat down for a discussion with General Students Union. The meeting took place in the University in the Department of Marketing Management. Midway through the discussion, a mob of around 200 strong supporters of the JVP, armed with clubs and stones stormed into the room and viciously attacked Vithanage and others in the anti-ragging camp. President of the General Students Union smashed a heavy computer monitor on his head. Vithanage was seriously injured.

When Samantha was about to be transported to the hospital, the pro-ragging students blocked the vehicle carrying the injured to the hospital, delaying proper medical treatment. The first hour of any seriously injured person is called ‘the golden hour’ by doctors because the first hour decides whether the seriously injured person lives or dies. That is why such victims need to be hospitalized as soon as possible. Two days later Samantha Vithanage died. After 20 years, in 2022, 7 out of the initially accused 22 individuals were sentenced to prison and fines.

In 2017, fifteen second-year students attached to the Agriculture Faculty of the University of Peradeniya had taken a group of first year students to a partially constructed house in Megoda, Kalugamuwa on the Galaha Road to be ragged. The house was rented out by the students paying Rs.30, 000 as rent for a three month period,  saying they were a group of architects on field assignments.

The seniors transported groups of first year students from time to time, to this house. Anyone has to pass my home to reach the rented house but the boys had used another path to smuggle the fresher’s to the house,” the landlord said.

We had information that inhuman ragging was taking place in rented houses outside the university .We were waiting for a tip off, to apprehend the offenders, university authorities said. The team was aware of the repercussions if the students were injured in the operation.  They took extra measures to ensure their safety.

As we approached the house, we could hear some boys shouting in filth. We saw two naked boys doing bunny leaps, with an onlooker using a club to threaten them if they paused. There were screams from another room, as if more boys were being tortured. All eight freshers had been stripped naked.  Some freshers had their body hair removed. These eight were later hospitalized as a result of the ragging. The raggers were arrested by the police.

The university authorities thought that it was the third year students who were behind this incident. Second year students had carried out the instructions. They obeyed out of fear. However, Inter University Student Federation issued a statement saying they had no involvement in this incident.

Within the university premises there is no way of ragging students. There are counsellors, proctors, deputy proctors, and the staff who are all vigilant and therefore they can’t rag students within the premises,” he said.  This is why they have taken a new initiative to go somewhere else, away from the university,  the authorties said.

University of Peradeniya has taken strong action on this incident. Prof. Upul Dissanayake, the Vice Chancellor of the Peradeniya University said the suspects would  either be suspended or expelled after the incident was inquired into. At the moment the suspects are in remand custody. They will be charged under the Anti-ragging Act. We have suspended the fifteen students indefinitely. In the meantime we are appointing an inquiry board and we will conduct a proper inquiry at the end of which they will be punished according to the offence. They will be either suspended or expelled,” he said.  He added that there were videos and photos of the physical rag that took place.

We have asked second year students of the Faculty of Agriculture not to come to the university. We have made them out of bounds because of this particular incident,” he added.  

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