Torture chambers in unis

By Tharumalee Silva

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sought the assistance of the Attorney General’s (AG) Department as serious ragging takes place in national universities.

Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Mohan De Silva told The Sunday Morning that the UGC reached out to the AG’s Department and sought advice on how to contain the situation.

“This issue has become a national menace; the protection of the students and, as per the University Act of 1978, the disciplinary authority of the university students are in the hands of the vice chancellors and university council members,” he said.

A third-year student of the University of Ruhuna Science Faculty revealed last week that he was a victim of serious ragging and that he had complained to the Vice Chancellor of the University. However, the Vice Chancellor had admitted that he did not have power over the matter and directed the student to lodge a complaint with the Police.

De Silva also stated that several torture chambers were discovered within some universities where students committed these acts and one such torture chamber was found at the University of Peradeniya.

The Chairman of the UGC further stated that over 2,000 students who registered at universities had left due to this menace over the past couple of years. He also noted that a special commission was established by the UGC to monitor the cases.

“We called for a meeting with all the vice chancellors, council members, and representatives from the Human Rights Commission and AG’s Department to discuss how to combat this issue,” he said.

He further noted that the student of the University of Ruhuna had identified his bullies and the AG’s Department is doing all within its power to assist him.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning,the convener of the Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) Maheel Bandara Dehideniya stated that the media conference held by the student who spoke out against the ragging could have been a publicity stunt.

“The university cut off marks was just released for this year and private universities have started their campaigns to get students to join their universities. So this would clearly benefit them,” he said.

He further stated that the university students within the University of Ruhuna have denied all claims of sexual harassment and misconduct.

“We need to question the character of this student before we take this matter any further,” he said.

He stated that despite this, the IUSF had conducted discussions with the students and encouraged students to come forward and speak the truth if they had endured similar situations.

When contacted, Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem said that he had called for stern action to be taken on the issue.