Saturday, June 20, 2009

National anti-ragging helpline

Ragging helpline tips

New Delhi, June 19: Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal will unveil a national anti-ragging helpline tomorrow.

The helpline aims to help victims of ragging within minutes of their complaints. It will be operational at all hours. A four-digit, toll-free number will become operational once the helpline is launched. The steps being planned:

Step 1: A ragged student or a friend calls the helpline.

Step 2: The distress message is automatically stored in a central database with time, location and details of caller.

Step 3: The message is instantly replayed from the central control room, simultaneously alerting the head of the institution, the warden of the hostel and an appointed nodal officer of the affiliating university.

Step 4: An officer at the central control room will decide, immediately after the distress call, whether the case needs immediate intervention from district officials and police. If so, the message will be relayed to the district magistrate and the superintendent of police.

Step 5: The complaint will be placed on a website to enable the media and citizens to keep track of follow-up action.

Step 6: At the institution, its head will be required to act “immediately” on receiving the complaint. The head and the hostel warden will be held responsible for follow-up action.

Step 7: The head and the warden will have to alert an anti-ragging squad they are required to constitute in the institution. This squad is to consist of students and representatives of the staff. Its mandate is to be prepared for physical intervention in ragging cases 24x7.

Step 8: The squad is expected to intervene at the offence site, stop or prevent any ragging, and collect any evidence, including witness testimonies. If the victim called after the incident, or the anti-ragging squad could not arrive on time, the squad will initiate action against the accused.

Step 9: The institute head has to decide, within 24 hours of receiving the call, whether to register an FIR. Independently of any police action, the institute must complete its inquiry and action must be completed in seven days.

Step 10: The central database will also store the status of the action taken. It will also be made available to an NGO nominated by the Centre.

Step 11: Failure by the institute to act can lead to a range of punishments — from disciplinary action against the head, warden or members of the staff to declaring the institute doesn’t meet academic standards.

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