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Probe launched after student commits suicide due to ragging

An investigation is being carried out on the death of a student at the Institute of Technology University of Moratuwa (ITUM) in Diyagama who committed suicide last Sunday (31) due to stress, which was a result of unbearable ragging.   

The 23-year-old student has been identified as Shanilka Dilhan Wijesinghe, a resident of Kurunegala. He studied physical science at the University of Jaffna for six months and then decided to pursue an NDT at ITUM, where he was ragged.

“I am sorry I took this decision because of the ragging that happens at ITUM. I was being ragged for eight or nine hours a day. I am in a very stressful situation. I can’t go there again. That is why I took this decision,” the student has written in a letter he wrote to his parents before committing suicide.

Social Activist Sumika Perera told RepublicNext that ragging has become a very unfortunate situation in state universities.

“This is not the first time that a student committed suicide due to ragging. Many students get physically and mentally abused at these institutions. Especially girls are victims of sexual violence and such incidents are not even being reported. The students are unable to complain about these harassments because they are afraid of the seniors. If they do so, they will be punished. Most of the students who get selected to the universities are from rural backgrounds and they have gone through many difficulties in order to get selected to a university. Therefore, it is very unfortunate that their right for free education and freedom from torture are violated,  ” she said.

Perera further stressed that the authorities should take strict action against those who rag in order to avoid such unfortunate incidents in the future.

Prof. Hemantha Senanayake, a Commission Member of the University Grants Commission (UGC), told RepublicNext that day by day, the magnitude of ragging is worsening. He pointed out that it is unfortunate that these kind of acts are happening in places that produce professionals.

“We think ragging is getting worse and worse. In the past, ragging didn’t have an aim. It was only a form of bullying but at present, students use ragging to put out their psychological pressure and it has become crueler. Particularly male students are asked to perform sexual acts. Some seniors ask the freshers to bully the others. Especially students with high z-scores become victims of ragging. This is what’s happening. In top universities of the world, such harassment is not taking place.”

Prof.Senanayake added that ragging is something that can be stopped and controlled. He said that he was able to control ragging in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Colombo and now the faculty is almost free of ragging.

Dr. Wijaya Jayatilaka, a Board Director at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) said that the UGC has set up an online complaint mechanism where any student can lodge a complaint regarding incidents of ragging and harassment and actions will be taken against those who conduct those acts.

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