|Osmanabad College of Engineering layout|
That knock on the door increased my heart beats.
In very low voice I asked, “Who is there?’
“Deepak, it’s me Kumar, please open the door”..
I opened the door slowly and Kumar entered my hostel room.
“Listen, Hussain has told me that Seniors from the city wants to meet us” Kumar continued.
“When?” my voice started shaking.
“Now ! Get ready, we have to go to his room immediately” said Kumar.
I washed my face in basin, opened my sleeves. Closed the collar button and joined Kumar in uncertain journey.
It was my third week in Osmanabad. Our Engineering college was situated in the outskirt of Osmanabad city. I was 18 yrs old then and first time in my life I was staying away from home. F.E.hostel was under construstion then and we all were staying in Old hostel building which is 'SENIOR BOYS hostel' now.
Our hostel had students from across the India. Right from Jammu Kashmir to Kerala. But being Maharashtra student, we didn’t face any major problem till then. Kumar and I we both were from Mumbai. So whenever we met our seniors from College, we used to speak in Marathi language, so as to avoid any kind of ragging. We heard many stories of Ragging in our college from first day of college. But I was quite safe there, as my roommate was Parag, a drop-out senior who knew almost all the seniors and had good relationships with them and also due to my connections with Sholapur and Tuljapur there. Parag had already warned us about notorious seniors from Osmanabad city.
In first two weeks, we met many seniors from Old Boys hostel and nearby areas. Local seniors were quite nice with us. But still, there were some instructions from them which we all juniors had to follow compulsorily. Those rules were simple and none of us showed any resistance to them.
1) All the Juniors will bow down to greet their Seniors wherever they will meet them.
2) Juniors will call all them as ‘SIR’ and no one will dare to call them with single name.
3) Juniors have to wear formals in the campus as well as in hostel and mess.
4) Juniors will keep their Sleeves buttons and collar button closed all the time.
5) They will always keep their head down during ragging period
These were some of the well accepted ragging rules for juniors. The ragging period was up to the ‘Fresher’s Party’ which was after One month in the first semester. So every single junior was fed-up of this ragging. There were instances when the juniors denied to follow the rules and were beaten badly by angry seniors. In one such ragging incident some senior from hostel burned the foam mattresses of one Junior in the hostel premise to terrify him.
The reason was quite simple. Their Seniors ragged them, when they were Juniors and now it was their turn to show their seniority with same way. But things used to get nasty when Seniors used to cross their limits. The mild ragging used to transfer into harassment and insult and even into physical assault sometimes. There was clear cut gap between Maharashtra candidates and Out Side Maharashtra candidates (OMS) candidates. It was un-written pact between both parties that they will not rag each other’s juniors. That means OMS candidates didn’t had permission to rag Maharashtrian students and Maharashtra Students didn’t had any permission to rag OMS juniors. No one broke this rule as it could result into big fight between them leading to rustication of some of the students from college. Not all students were rowdy. But there were some really nasty seniors who used to harass juniors all the times.
That day, was different for us. As on previous day, some of the local seniors had slapped some OMS Juniors in Osmanabad city, as they found them drinking beers in the City bar. None of the juniors had permission to drink till Freshers Party. This lead to conflict between Seniors which resulted in our call. We knew now it was our turn and so we were frightened. OMS seniors from city had arranged ‘ragging call’ for us in Osmanabad city, in someone’s room. Some of the Seniors were living in the city in rented flats. And they called me and Kumar to their room that day. Denying them was not possible,so we wanted to somehow contact our local seniors.
When I and Kumar came out of the hostel room our senior Hussain met us near the Valley. He told us to walk slowly towards the main road without talking with each other. He even mentioned that their were 6-7 OMS seniors standing on the way at different positions so not to even try to contact Maharashtra Seniors. We got the complete idea of what was on our way? It was dirty revenge game by OMS seniors. Our hostel was situated on hill and the main road was around 15 min. walking. We started walking towards main road, and Hussain followed us from some distance. After some steps when we turned back Hussain was not there. We sighed in relief, but within a moment one another Punjabi senior came out of valley road infront of us and gave us instruction to walk down the valley road. They chose the way through valley so as to avoid any Maharashtra Seniors. We kept walking downside. And as we reached in the centre of valley, that Sardar vanished. We climbed that valley and reached on plane surface again. The valley was quite deep and had no water in it during Summer,so it was short-cut to reach College building.
We were tired of walking and wanted to drink some water. We were thinking to go to college building for drinking water but one more OMS Senior came in front of us from nowhere. He warned us not to enter in college premises and keep walking towards Share Auto rickshaw stand. Kumar and I, we both started praying to God. As we reached Rickshaw stand, one more Senior from North India met us near stand. In loud voice he told us to look down. We had the instructions to always keep our head down and eyes on third button of our shirts. We sat inside the 10-sitter auto, two more seniors sat besides us and started staring at us. The plot was somewhat like Bollywood movies where Villain’s men kidnap Heroes on gun-point, this thought terrified us more. One of the senior offered us water bottle. We both drank hastily and started looking at each other with questions in our minds and fear on our face. Kumar was little braver than me, so he advised me to keep calm. After 20 minutes we reached city.
In city, we entered one building where maximum of OMS students were living. Till now we both made up our mind to be ready for facing whatever was in our fate. We entered in one of the flat. 3-4 seniors were waiting there for us. They all took their positions and asked us to stand in centre. Kumar and I, we both were still looking down.
One of the senior asked Kumar to sit on the chair as he tried to sit, he slapped him and told him to stand again.
“How dare you sit infront of your seniors? Don’t you have any respect for them?’’ He asked
Kumar said “Sorry Sir”
“You are from Malad, right?”, one of the senior asked.
“Yes Sir” Kumar answered in low voice tone.
Senior raised his voice “Speak loudly and clearly, we can’t hear you”
“Yes Sir”, Kumar repeated, now in much higher voice.
“ And what about you Hero? Where do you stay in Mumbai?” He turned to me.
“S..S…Santacruz”, I fumbled.
“ Ok….Introduce yourself” He ordered me.
I started giving my introduction. One of the senior came to me and punched me in my back.
“Stand straight and start again” he laughed.
I was quite angry with the punch and wanted to punch him back.
But I started again, but when I started again, I could not control myself. Tears started rolling my eyes. Senior started laughing at me.
He said “ I had heard that Mumbai boys are smart and brave, tu toh fattu nikala”
Second said, “ It’s just a beginning. You have to remove your cloths and do ‘Muzra’ for us”
This made me more angry and I started fuming in anger. But my eyes were full of water.
They ordered me again .But I refused to say a word. I stood silently.
Now they became angry and started forcing me to talk.
But I remained quite and started staring them with anger.
First time in my life I was feeling very insulted? The fear was now turned into anger.
Kumar intervened in between and told them.
“Sir, he is a local boy from Sholapur.”
When they heard it, they realized that it was their mistake that they targeted me.
They straight away changed their tone and started talking to me politely.
They told us to go.
Kumar and I, we both sat in auto towards our hostel.
Kumar asked me, “Why did you start crying? They didn’t do anything to us?
In fact your local connection saved us. It was normal ragging”
In fact your local connection saved us. It was normal ragging”
“I didn’t cried because of Ragging, I cried because, I realized what mistakes I did in my life.I was one of the cream student till HSc, but I couldn’t get good Engineering college
What I deserved and what I got? I have landed here in Jungle, this thought made me cry”.
This was my first experience of ragging in my entire life. After few days all Juniors took Common Off of 20 days due to such increasing ragging incidents. I remained home one week more and went there after almost one month. Fresher’s party was already over. Seniors were busy in their assignments and projects. Juniors were preparing for their first semester. After few days I went for CAP rounds in Nanded, where I got re-admission to Mumbai University.I spend very few days in Osmanabad (Aug 1999) , but I still remember everything clearly.
Thanks to Indian Government which took ‘Ragging Matter’ seriously and banned ragging completely after few years. Sensitive people can not handle ragging even if it’s mild in nature. Ragging is not a 'fun' !