Posted on August 31st, 2022


The majority of the freshers are scared and submit as commanded by the seniors without complaint. Many are afraid to stand against it.  Our precursor batch complained about the rag, and this simply prolonged the rag, said an undergrad.

My friends and I formed a group and planned to escape the evening rag, which was after lectures. But, many declined to join us and said that they would rather face the rag and that they were scared to escape, said a respondent. These freshers were scared to attend lectures without the ‘Vaatha Card’ issued to freshers by their raggers. It was considered their visa to survive in the university.

I tried to avoid the morning rag, but they note you, single you out and your rag merely gets worse, said one informant. My friend and I  walked away from the canteen, but a ragger found us and said that if we do not go to the canteen they would make the rag for our batch worse.  We had to comply. There are many exits in university, other than the main gate, but the raggers had positioned themselves in every exit path.

Freshers were told, you must submit to the rag or you will get isolated  and ostracized. A senior told me it was better to comply with the rag, otherwise we get left out from university activities and it becomes difficult to join clubs and sports. .

 Refusing the rag leads to being an ‘outcast’ and they would not be permitted to join clubs and societies subsequently, Freshers are thus compelled to cooperate with seniors. This is how the raggers perpetuate the submissive mentality within us, said an undergrad.

Those who resist ragging are ostracized for the full four years and those who speak to them are punished. Information is withheld. They are not told when the time and venue of a lecture was changed.

It was the same for those who were anti-rag. Anti-raggers were not allowed to stay in the corridor, use the canteen or library. I was anti-rag and I was told you cannot sit on this bench or walk on this grass and then they hit me, said an undergrad.  Another was asked to leave the hostel when he refused to join the rag 

The university ragging sessions, watha kireema’ started in the canteens   and then moved to university hostels, lecture halls/labs and university grounds.   Freshers were also ragged wherever the seniors caught them, be it in the toilet or the canteen. You are harassed for refusing or missing the rag as well freshers reported.

Hostels and canteens were considered hot-beds of ragging.’   In Rajarats University on the first day only ten students from the hostel were allowed to go to the canteen to get dinner, but those ten were  abused.. That same day seniors had switched off the water connection to the hostel bathrooms.

The worst forms of  ragging tookplace in the hostel, reported undergrads. The hostels catered primarily to low income students far from home.. Others avoid the hostel and  lived elsewhere or came from home.   Undergrads advised newcomers not to live in hostels.

A  male undergrad who   was  staying with a relative was tracked down and  invited to  come and stay   a hostel, saying that  he could then enjoy kuppi talks . He had refused. The raggers have a  separate vocabulary such as Kuppi, he observed.

The rag leaders stayed in hostels.  They had lap tops. In hostels there is a pressure from the peers to get involved in ragging. Second year students who are not interested ragging therefore  found it difficult to continue to live there.   

The ragging consists of a string of rituals, each  with its own name. They  were carried out in a prescribed  sequence  These  rituals are called by different names in different universities, but they follow the same pattern, observed Sujata Gamage. 

The Navikaranaya starts with ‘Maha thatiya’ in canteen. Freshers were surrounded by seniors and shouted at  in ‘kunu harupa’ in the canteen. They were forced to eat  from other peoples plates. A ragger who clearly saw that I had just eaten directed me to another table to eat again. The new group that I went to had almost finished eating, and the ragger was screaming into my ear saying, ‘Eat! Eat! Eat!’ and I had to eat the scraps from that rice packet.

A group of students enrolled at the Institute of Indigenous Medicine wrote to the Vice Chancellor   in 2017 .In this letter they stated, inter alia  that all new students have to be at the canteen by 7 am, eating elsewhere was forbidden by the seniors. Those who are not present at the canteen are subject to various punishments given by the seniors. 

 Once in the canteen the seniors abuse the freshers using filthy words. Leftovers from meals, containing  saliva, are given to the freshers by the seniors. Soft drinks and sand are mixed with the breakfast and lunch and freshers are forced to eat them.  They were  taught poems and stories containing obscene language . Those who fail to learn these obscene poems and stories are made to  crawl on the floor  . Students who refuse to obey these commands are punished. .

The Indigenous Medicine students were also ragged in their hostel. It  was compulsory to register in the hostel even if they lived close by.  They were forced not to pay the government fees to the hostel.   In the hostel, they were woken up at 5 am for ragging  which went on till 2 am the next day. They were given mental, physical and sexual punishments” by the seniors after lectures ended. During the period of six months of ragging, they were prohibited to do their studies.   The freshers were introduced to liquor and narcotic drugs. Drinks mixed with these were given for the new female students to drink,  statement concluded. .

An important feature of  university ragging was verbal abuse. We are verbally abused  repeatedly undergrads said.. Seniors surround freshers, intimidate them and scold them in obscene language.  They call us by filthy, unprintable names. Girls had to repeat these  obscene words,  I can’t repeat those words here, said one undergrad at a Derana interview.

The freshers were made to stand before ‘ a thousand students’ and were   ‘ scolded properly’,. This severe scolding in front of a large gathering  and the  use of abusive language frightened the freshers and caused stress.. Some had loose motions.

 The thing is, we are not used to getting such scolding. The first two weeks my friend and I experienced loose motions. We were not able to tolerate the tension, said one undergrad.. Freshers are scolded in filth and  then  are told that they should be able to bear anything. This is a very traumatizing experience,” added another. 

The freshers were also subject to much physical harassment.  They were assaulted , pushed off balance forced to kneel down. They were made to  do push ups and sit on ground for long hours. They were asked to keep legs and hands together and sit for five, six hours or until the dawn .

 The freshers feared harmful assault, reported the UGC.  In one instance, freshers were made to drink water containing salt and turmeric and then do a thousand dips and thousand squats. This  had affected  their breathing and the freshers were hospitalized.

In one university  all  freshers, male and female had to climb a five storey building on their backsides, every day. A  girl who was good in her studies had left the university after this experience, reported undergrads..At yet another university a student was forced to go down a flight of steps using his knees.

The rag also  targeted dress. Male freshers complained, we are forced to wear our trousers without wearing underpants.   Raggers were against underwear for males. They also complained, we are forced to wear a white shirt and black pants for two weeks without washing them. At the end of the two weeks the shirt and the black pants had become so dirty that students looked more like animals. And after removing our dirty clothes and clad only in our under pants, buckets full of water are then thrown at us .

 Male freshers complained repeatedly,  with deep feeling, that the raggers  deliberately tore their T shirts, over and over again, ,sometimes to shreds. This was a   great blow to the freshers.. The  few clothes they had lovingly acquired  for university  were precious to them. They did not come from wealthy families. This was a cruel,  well calculated, act.

UGC  report carried the following statement. I am a poor student. Both my mother and father are not alive. I grew up in a children’s home. However, I made a great effort to pass the A/L and entered the university. I had bought five long sleeve shirts, spending money that I earned, facing many difficulties. I wore all the five shirts. They were cut. I lost what I  had earned through hard work.

Freshers were harassed in other ways too. Their memory  was tested  in an impossible manner. Freshers said  they  were required to remember the names of all their peers (300 students or more), their parents’ names and room number. If they didn’t know these, they would be scolded”  we had to  byheart” the names of all the batch mates, other  freshers said.

  JVP  tried not to alienate  the  freshers too much. In the midst of  this physical assault,  they would comfort the fresher. You have to go through this  but don’t worry , they  assured him. An  undergrad observed in a television discussion  that after they were hit, someone from the Students Union would come to comfort him,  then hit him again.

There was a welcome party at the end of the rag. Then the  raggers wanted a return party. We  went out  with tills and collected money and  gave them a big party with alcoholic  drinks and drugs, reported the freshers. ( Continued)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress