VIJAYAWADA: The state government has begun damage control exercise, after first year B.Arch student M Rushikeswari ended her life last Tuesday in her hostel room at Nagarjuna University unable to bear the harassment by her seniors, by deputing higher education minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao to inquire into the suicide and come up with measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.
Srinivasa Rao, after enquiring the varsity staff, said that the government was committed to deal with the instances with an iron hand and would bring forth legislation that is more powerful than Nirbhaya, if necessary.
Rushikeshwari, unable to tolerate the pressure to move closely with senior male students, hanged herself from the ceiling last Tuesday, leading to a rash of protests in the campus. The police, after registering a case, arrested three students for abetting the suicide.
Srinivasa Rao told mediapersons that it was being contemplated to send the students harassing their juniors in the garb of ragging out of the universities/colleges and also ensure that they would not get admission in any other colleges.
The next cabinet meeting, which is scheduled on July 22 in Rajahmundry, will discuss the incident and come out with stringent measures to provide protection to girls from seniors. To begin with, we are considering providing a toll free number, which is easy to remember for any girl in distress to call. The calls to this number would be monitored by the office of the commissioner of collegiate education. There is a proposal for setting up complaint boxes on the campuses of universities and colleges, he informed.
It is also being contemplated to record attendance with bio-metric devices at colleges and at girls’ hostels besides posting a permanent resident warden. “In Rushikeshwari’s hostel, there was no resident warden and hence there was no supervision after 10 pm,” he pointed out, adding that CCTV cameras would be installed in hostels to keep track of students.
At the time of joining the college or university, an affidavit would be taken from students that they would be liable for action if they indulged in ragging. Both the student and his father would have to sign the affidavit, the minister added.