NATIONAL

State to press criminal charges in ragging cases

KOLKATA NOV. 10. The West Bengal Government has decided to take ``unprecedented and exemplary action, including levelling criminal charges'' against those ragging freshers in college hostels.

This follows a series of such incidents in private and State-run educational institutions. The last such incident occurred on Thursday last, when a student from Imphal was paraded naked by his seniors in a polytechnic institute in Asansol, south Bengal.

He was subsequently admitted to a hospital with chest pain. Another left the hostel earlier alleging torture. At least four incidents of ragging in hostels during the academic session starting this August have been reported to the State authorities, three of them in engineering colleges.

The State's department for technical education has taken serious note of the most recent incident last week and sought a report from the institute's authorities. ``If necessary, very stern action will be taken against those responsible'', the secretary, technical education, Sundara Shekhar, told The Hindu here today.

``The authorities are legally empowered to initiate penal measures against those indulging in ragging in college hostels'', the State's Minister for Higher Education, Satya Sadhan Chakravarty, said. According to the secretary, higher education department, Jawhar Sircar, the West Bengal Prohibition of Ragging in Educational Institutions Act, 2000, will be invoked with greater vigour.

``Unlike some other States, we have now decided not to stop short of taking unprecedented action while enforcing the Act.''

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