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External committee to probe ragging in UOK

z p01 crackdownAn External Committee is to be appointed to probe all ragging related complaints in the University of Kelaniya, Vice Chancellor Sunanda Madduma Bandara said.

In a bid to arrest the escalating situation related to ragging at the Kelaniya University, the authorities have instructed all students to take ragging related complaints directly to the Police.

“The decision to appoint an External Committee to examine the complaints was taken to ensure impartiality in the process,” he said.

“However, the composition of the committee has still not been decided,” Prof. Bandara said.

“A common accusation of students is that committees appointed to probe ragging related incidents, comprising of academics are often partial, and do not have a fair hearing to all sides. The new committee aims to prevent that,”the Vice Chancellor said. “A comprehensive action plan has been prepared to address possible future events as well,” Student Affairs Director Dr. Chaminda Abeysinghe said.

“The action plan includes a committee to prevent future ragging and other student violence incidents as well. This committee will include a member of the Kelaniya residential community, a parent and a student in addition to faculty members and other university administration figures,” Dr.Abeysinghe said. The committee will function with two co-chairs and two co-secretaries, and will be mandated to carry out the preliminary investigations on all complaints received.

The Kelaniya University Students’ Union however is not aware of the appointment of the new committees, Union President Nandana Sudesh said.

According to him, while the union on principle is against any external bodies meddling with affairs of the university, the unionwill make their stance known once the decisions have been officially communicated to them. The Kelaniya University has also taken steps to strictly implement the convention on Preventing Ragging and Sexual and Gender Based Violence in Universities, adopted at the High Level Dialogue on the subject organised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) last month.

Further the seven students who were arrested by the Kiribathgoda Police last week over a complaint on sexual harassment while ragging are also to be tried under Anti Ragging act.

The student unions are however against the Anti Ragging Act, and called it a torture act.

“A university student cannot even talk to another student, as it can be interpreted as ragging according to the Act. This Act can also be used to politically victimise active students or student activists. Therefore, we are against the implementation of the Act,” Sudesh said. The complete action plan will be presented to the University Council for approval at the next meeting scheduled on Tuesday (10).

The Council is also to make a decision on reopening of the university at the meeting. The university was declared off bounds for all students by university authorities on April 26. According to university authorities this decision was taken to prevent spread of a virus which has contaminated the university water supply.

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