Posted on September 22nd, 2022


It is important to understand exactly what the JVP is looking for among the freshers arriving in university .They are not looking for intelligence or knowledge or beauty. They are   looking for   young persons with a    propensity to strong, unwavering physical violence and cruelty. JVP is a movement that believes in prachandathvaya.  The university is its recruiting ground.

The rural student coming into the university from backward districts on district quota was ideal for this purpose. He was naturally violence prone. If someone opposes him, that person is attacked physically, noted Weeramunda. The type of student leader selected shows that violence is valued in the ragging culture, observed academics in 2007.

Out of a total of 9000 students, only 25 or 30 are directly involved in violence in Kelaniya said an informant in 2007. All are Arts students with two from Commerce. Arts has the most number of students from impoverished backgrounds.  Students who come from poor families have grievances. Almost all have psychological problems, noted Weeramunda. They can be easily manipulated.

The JVP controlled student unions focused on violence not studies. In University of Sri Jayewardenepura the Student Union has a unit known as kele polisiya” said informants in 2007. They   are skilled in the use of weapons such as kris knives, bicycle chains, as well as pistols and guns. Clearly they have been given training in using these weapons.

JVP had succeeded in intimidating the security service in the university, as well.  200 JVPers came with poles and assaulted 17 security officers in Ruhuna University, reported undergrads in a talk show. Security services in Kelaniya University were scared of the JVP, reported Weeramunda, they had been attacked by the JVP.

JVP used violence to repress all forms of dissent, critical thinking, also cultural activities such as drama festivals. Force is exerted through thuggery with support from outside elements, Weeramunda  was told.

Violence is there from start to finish in the ragging programme. There is   considerable value placed on physical violence in the ragging activities in the  university observed  analysts. Raggers use  words like  Marapiyavu.  Male freshers are regularly assaulted. At Ruhuna 15 activists had got hold of three freshers, put them on the ground and beat them for coming late  for a ragging  activity ( 2019).

Undergrads appearing on talk shows said  with deep feeling that the raggers engage in prachandathvaya. Mara bala prachandathvaya,” added  one speaker. About 200 hit us   and some  of us were hospitalized.

 JVP raggers caused physical  hurt. The raggers had cut off of a finger of an undergrad, and had also cut up the back of another student using a barber’s razor, he needed stitches. In University of Colombo the throat of a student had been cut during a fight  . The matter went to the courts and several were suspended,(2007).

There is  sadism. JVP engages in the torture of undergrads.  JVPers in University of Peradeniya had hired a house  a few miles away, took students there and tortured them. In Ruhuna they had built a torture chamber  on top of the canteen.

There have been violent clashes between the various political groups in the university. This violence was introduced by the JVP, said analysts. It was not  there before. JVP are strongly opposed to any rival group coming up in the university . There were clashes between JVP and   UNP in Peradeniya  student union elections of 1982.  There is a brawl among students every year said a Kelaniya informant in 2007. JVP directs activities from behind the scenes.

In Kelaniya, JVP was  controlling the Arts Faculty while a rival group, Sahayogatha Padanama was dominating the Science faculty. Sahayogatha  was open to students from all political parties  Sahayogatha  opposed ragging. JVP objected and the two groups assaulted each other. Some students were hospitalized.

JVP  also engaged in murderous violence. JVP killed students who opposed them. 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.

I was a student  in Sri Jayewardenepura University from 2000 to 2005   said an informant in the Weeramunda  study. During my time, 2 students were killed. One was from arts and the other from science faculties. The case is still being heard in the courts. 40 students were arrested and remanded.

Violence is  very much present in the  clash between the pro-rag and anti rag groups in a university . In a normal situation, this would not lead to violence.  It would be settled amicably. In the case of JVP ragging, the raggers turn murderous, indicating clearly that this is no innocent rag.

Daily News  editorial  observed that from the early 1980s there were undergraduates in state universities who opposed the raggers secretly. In the 1990s there were undergraduates in almost all state universities who opposed them openly. No matter whether they expressed their views secretly or openly, the undergraduate thugs of the Student Union either killed them or attacked them with various weapons making them permanently disabled.

The anti-raggers in universities are not an organized movement. They oppose ragging and in return pay a heavy price in the form of being subjected to harassment, bullying and ostracism. The anti-raggers  see the  violent ragging as  an internal phenomenon. They   do not realize that that  they are unwittingly challenging an operation controlled by the murderous  JVP from outside. They  will be assaulted till they understand this aspect of the problem and change their strategy.

Violent clashes between raggers and anti-raggers  continues in university .In 2017,a second year student at University of Peradeniya  who had been very vocal against ragging and identified himself as an anti-ragger was assaulted. A group of third year students including two who came on a bike assaulted me,” said the victim, Patabendige. They slapped me, punched me on the head.

I called the student counsellor and one of the English instructors. They rushed to the place and I was sent to the university health centre and then Peradeniya Hospital .He was an active anti-ragger empowering freshers and the assaulters had been following him for the past few weeks. Anti-raggers are not allowed to go to the public canteen. They can’t even stay in the hostel as they are harassed,” said Patabendige.  He reported the assault to the police. An identification parade was held, and seven were identified and remanded. 

 In 2022 a group of Arts Faculty students at University of Peradeniya had attacked a group of Law students   who were having their meals in the university’s Gemba Canteen. Students who are against ragging have been banned from eating in the canteen. The law student were against ragging and the Arts group were in favor of it. Law undergraduates are against any form of ragging, and they have stood against ragging on several occasions.

This clash was included in the Derana 6.55 news programme of 20.9.2022. This is, as far as I know, the first time that such a clash has been publicized in  television news.  Daily News ran an editorial on it.

The Law Student Union (LSU) of the Sri Lanka Law College issued a statement where it expressed its solidarity with the Law undergraduates of the University of Peradeniya and demanded an inquiry. Law College did not permit ragging. Its policy was to help juniors.

LSU said in its statement that a mob of violent students have assaulted 12 students who were dining peacefully at the ‘Gemba’ canteen premises at the Faculty of Arts, University of Peradeniya. Four students who retained physical injuries consequent to the assault had been hospitalized. It is believed that this premeditated attack was made on the law students who had actively implemented a strict no-ragging policy. Hence this was an attack on the diligent effort put forward by the students to create a violence-free/no-ragging environment, LSU said.

 LSU pointed out, further that this attack violated the Prohibition of Ragging and Other Forms of Violence in Educational Institutions Act No.20 of 1998 and was therefore a clear abuse of the laws of the nation.

The JVP involvement in such attacks is now publicly recognized, though there is a reluctance to mention its name. With regard to the 2022 incident at Peradeniya   Daily News spoke of a group of students who are supported by certain political parties who are in favor of ragging in the university,”   In 2017  Daily Mirror  drew attention to the   brutish behavior by senior  university students with political backing  in  Peradeniya University.

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