The Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K) has suspended 16 students for three years and six others for a year after they were found guilty of ragging their juniors, in the first decision of its kind in the history of the premier institution.
The decision was taken by the IIT-K’s senate, the apex decision-making body, at a meeting held on Monday night after it heard the third-year students guilty of making their juniors strip and do objectionable acts to each other. The ragging was recorded on cell phones and circulated on social media groups.
IIT-K’s deputy director Dr Manindra Agarwal said the 16 students were expelled for three years as the charges against them were “extremely serious”.
The senior students will not have the right to appeal for mercy during the expulsion period and can appeal only after the completion of the suspension period and would be allowed to take admission in the course.
In addition, the president and other office bearers of the student gymkhana were removed from their respective posts allegedly for ignoring the complaints.
About 30 junior students filed a complaint to the dean of student affairs against 50 seniors, saying they were thrashed, abused, and forced to do inhuman acts on August 20.
The dean of student affairs referred his complaint to the anti-ragging committee for an inquiry and recommendation of punishment. The committee found the involvement of 24 senior students and recommended the termination of the students from the courses as well as registering a police complaint against them.
Action against the senior students was expedited only after one of the professors at the institute wrote about the incident on his blog.
The senate at its extraordinary meeting in September suspended the senior students from different disciplines from the hostel and the ongoing academic session.
Ragging is outlawed in Indian campuses but despite interventions from the government and the Supreme Court, fresh college entrants are often subject to days of physical and mental abuse by their seniors – a practice often dubbed as entertainment or fun.
In 2009, the University Grants Commission set up an anti-ragging helpline after the death of 19-year-old Aman Kachroo, a first-year medical student in Himachal Pradesh.
The death triggered national outrage and a panel appointed by the Supreme Court found the teenager had repeatedly complained to college authorities and asked for help. But he was ignored.
The UGC helpline receives millions of calls but many students say they are scared to complain. A study funded by the national education regulator last year found 40% students face some ragging but only 8.6% report them.