Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court Thursday sought a detailed report from the Director of IIT- Kharagpur on the death of a third-year student on campus last month.
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha said, “Court is interested to know as to what steps have been taken by the said wardens and the management of IIT- Kharagpur after receipt of information of what appears to be a clear case of ragging.”
The high court has also asked the director to name students involved in the “ragging” in its report.
23-year-old Faizan Ahmed, a resident of Assam’s Tinsukia district, who was studying mechanical engineering at IIT-Kharagpur was found dead in room 205 of Lala Lajpat Rai hostel on 14 October.
“His body was lying on the floor of the room with marks on his body. Faizan was last seen on 11 October. His last phone call as per call record data was also made that night. So for at least four days, his body was lying in the room, and no one had any idea,” alleged the lawyer Aniruddha Mitra, who is representing Faizan’s parents, while speaking to ThePrint.
On 16 October, an FIR was filed by the police at Kharagpur Town station as it was an unnatural death. A senior police official of West Medinipore told ThePrint on condition of anonymity that the case indicates ragging and they are awaiting the forensic report of the deceased student to ascertain the cause of death.
Statements of persons pertaining to the case have also been recorded. ThePrint has accessed a copy of the FIR against unknown persons under section 302 of Indian Penal Code for murder.
Lapses from IIT admin
Dissatisfied with the police investigation and alleged attempt by IIT Kharagpur to make a case of suicide to safeguard the reputation of the institute — Faizan’s family moved Calcutta High Court on 1 November.
“We have annexed screenshots of a Facebook page called ‘IT KGP confessions’ in our high court plea that shows that there was an assimilation programme from February to March, which appears to be some kind of ragging session, in Rajendra Prasad Hall of residence that Faizan refused to attend. He was allegedly forced to join in and brought down from his room and humiliated in front of 130 batchmates. He changed his hostel room and took shelter at Lala Lajpat Rai hostel 45 days before his death,” said advocate Aniruddha Mitra.
Speaking to ThePrint, Faizan’s mother, Rehena Ahmed, said that till date the Director of IIT-Kharagpur hasn’t met them, despite repeated phone calls and requests.
In a press release dated 20 October, the Deputy Director of IIT Kharagpur Amit Patra admitted to the lapses by the administration.
The document accessed by ThePrint states, “There is a gap in communication between the authorities and the parents of the deceased student owing to which no faculty member has contacted the parents. The Deputy Director did not respond or handle the situation on ground. It is acknowledged that multiple unreachable phone calls were made to BC Roy Technology Hospital and medical assistance wasn’t provided. The faculty advisor of the student exhibited inappropriate behaviour towards the parents. The Dean of Student Affairs also misbehaved with the parents.”
ThePrint has reached out to the Director of IIT Kharagpur VK Tewari and Registrar Tamal Nath via email and phone. This report will be updated when a response is received.
Demand for independent investigation
Faizan’s family now seeks an investigation into their son’s death by an independent agency and not the local police alleging influence from the premier institute.
“It is seen from the photograph clicked of his body in the hostel room that his eyes and mouth were open, apparently gasping for breath, while his hands were in a posture which indicates that he was pinned down to the ground,” reads the writ petition filed by them.
Rehena says her son’s body was beyond recognition. “The two IIT administrative staff present at the hospital first said my son was mentally unstable, and that he had committed suicide. When I told them he had called me the day he died and told me the food he ate in the mess reminded him of my cooking, they said he had died of a heart attack. How can they tell me two different things in half an hour,” she asked.
Faizan’s mother further alleged that they were made to sign a paper by the police which had a complaint written in Bengali, a language they can’t read.
“When we went to the police station, we wanted to see the condition in which my son was found in the room. A senior police officer said that the photos have been deleted as they weren’t important,” she said.
She says she has no hope from the local police and wants a CID or CBI investigation to find the truth. “IIT is covering up the death of my son as suicide but he was killed,” she claimed.
“I am unable to sleep, the moment I close my eyes, I see Faizan being beaten brutally,” said Rehena.
She recalled how she encouraged him to study at an IIT when he was in class 7. “He went for coaching in Kota and secured the 11th position in India. Between IIT Delhi, Bombay and Kharagpur he picked the latter,” said Rehana.
Faizan came from an economically weak family. He secured a 50 per cent scholarship and joined IIT-Kharagpur. His uncle, Rashid Ahmed was sponsoring his education as his father is battling cancer.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)