The high court on Thursday ordered the director of IIT Kharagpur to file a report on November 21 stating the steps it had taken — based on the Supreme Court’s guidelines — in regard to an assimilation programme that the family of a dead student has described as “collective ragging”.
Faizan Ahmed, a third-year mechanical engineering student, was allegedly harassed and humiliated for refusing to be part of the programme. He was found dead in a room at the Lala Lajpat Rai Hall of Residence on October 14.
Justice Rajashekhar Mantha, who is hearing a writ petition filed by Faizan’s parents, wanted to know whether the IIT authorities had taken steps in accordance with Supreme Court guidelines on ragging.
The petition by Faizan’s parents says he had declined to be part of the “assimilation programme” at the Rajendra Pratap (RP) Hall of Residence in February and March. The assimilation programme, the petition says, was a “glorified term” for “collective ragging”.
On Thursday, while submitting its progress report on the investigation in the court, the Kharagpur Town police produced a document that stated the purported steps taken by the IIT authorities about the assimilation programme.
The court wanted to know what steps the IIT had taken in accordance with the Supreme Court guidelines on ragging.
Aniruddha Mitra, one of the lawyers representing Faizan’s family, said: “The judge said letting the offenders off merely by issuing a warning does not amount to taking any action in accordance with the Supreme Court’s guidelines and the authorities have to face consequences for that. The Supreme Court has said that the ragging offenders must be rusticated.”
Calls and text messages to the IIT director, Virendra Kumar Tewari, went unanswered.
Deputy director Amit Patra said: “We will submit a report as ordered by the court.”
A chain of events at the IIT suggests that the authorities had received complaints of “physical and mental harassment” of the second-year students at the RP hall by their seniors.
A mail sent to all the students at the hostel by the wardens’ office in February said: “The team of RPH wardens are receiving complaints (NOT anonymous) that the 2nd year UG students are being physically and mentally harassed by a group of seniors that includes Hall Council Members (HCM). We have taken a strong note of those complaints and have instructed the HCM to stop such unethical practice/menace with immediate effect.”
“The official schedule of AP (Assimilation Programme) is already OVER. Any such related gathering is also strictly prohibited.... Therefore, 2nd year students are advised to contact/report us immediately in case you feel distressed/ traumatised and experience any incident that you feel as ragging/harassment,” the mail said.
Faizan was among several students who had complained of the harassment to the wardens, a senior IIT official told The Telegraph.
Faizan’s mother Rehana Ahmed told this newspaper: “Today’s order clearly shows the IIT administration was not serious about taking steps in preventing ragging.”
The judge directed Facebook to cooperate with the investigators to find out who deleted a Facebook post in which some IIT students had purportedly said Faizan was subjected to humiliation for refusing to take part in ragging in a hostel.
This newspaper reported on Sunday that a lawyer for Faizan had alleged in a letter to the Paschim Medinipur superintendent of police that the Facebook post and related comments on “IIT KGP confessions 3.0” were deleted after the hearing of the petition” on the death began in the high court on November 3.
The court directed the director of the forensic laboratory to send the viscera report by November 14 to the additional superintendent of police, Paschim Medinipur.