I know those who ragged me. I know names, faces of the leaders. I can identify them... I would have complained earlier but they threatened I would be thrown out of the hostel.”
A pillow supporting his damaged left knee, Naveen Kujur tries hard to rest at his house in Lowadih, Ranchi. But he cannot shut out memories of the nights of ragging at the hostel of the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi.
Classes began in June, but freedom ended on the night of August 14. “Someone from the third year told us to assemble on the TV terrace at 11 pm on August 14 for parade. We had to do various drills till six in the morning, and we were told to return two hours later for the flag hoisting ceremony.”
Every night thereafter, the first-year students were to assemble on the TV terrace — a balcony that seems to have got its name from the adjacent TV room — and become a source of entertainment to the seniors.
“Freshers had to wear formals inside the hostel. Each night would belong to a different batch of seniors — the second, third and fourth year students took turns so that the others could study. The fifth year students were too busy to rag,” Naveen said.
And the seniors had excuses to justify the numbing violence. “There are no campus placements in the SPA anymore, we all lived in fear. Seniors would say if we did not keep them happy, they would not use their connections to get us jobs. They kept insisting that the ragging united us,” Naveen said.
This peer pressure ensured that even victims were complicit in keeping the nights at the hostel under wraps. No one squealed.
But he soon realised the hollowness of the unity argument. “Freshers were prohibited from using the elevator and canteen in the college. I went to college for two days after my injury, and the third year students were laughing at me as I struggled up the stairs. Since canteen was a kilometre away, I had to forego lunch. Later too, I missed meals when I had to stay in the hostel. No senior came to help.”
All this while, the SPA administration seemed to be blissfully unaware of what went on in its hostel after dark. But at least one individual close to the administration knew. “The night guard knew. He was almost always there,