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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

Mother of dead IIT Kharagpur student: ‘Where do students get guns, swords and knives inside a premier institute like IIT?’

Institute promises statement after court-ordered second autopsy finds mechanical engineering student Faizan Ahmed may have been shot, stabbed

Arnab Ganguly Published 15.06.24, 04:37 PM
Faizan Ahmed

Faizan Ahmed Sourced by the correspondent

For nearly two years after her son Faizan Ahmed’s body was found in a room at IIT Kharagpur’s Lala Lajpat Rai hostel on October 14, 2022, his mother Rehana has refused to believe her son died by suicide.

A fresh forensic report, submitted to the Calcutta High Court last month, has reportedly found wounds similar to a bullet injury and stabbing on the third-year mechanical engineering student’s neck.

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It blows to smithereens the authorities’ initial claims of a death by suicide.

“My son was not the kind to die by suicide. Woh khush tha [He was happy],” Rehana told The Telegraph Online from her home in Assam’s Tinsukia on Saturday. “He wanted to study.”

Rehana recalled her last meeting with her only son in the month of June 2022, at their family home in Tinsukia.

“The IIT is involved in my son’s death,” she said. “From where do students get guns, swords and knives inside the campus of a premier institute like the IIT?”

She claimed that the premier engineering school’s top officials had refused to meet her.

"Before the second post-mortem, when the body was being exhumed, there were four representatives from IIT,” Rehana said. “I did not allow them to set foot inside the kabrastan. They said they were there to support me. Then why has IIT fielded three-four lawyers against me instead of identifying my son's killers?"

She remembered seeing her son’s bloodied corpse in the morgue.

“There was so much blood on his body and around him,” she said. “When I asked why there was so much blood, a police officer convinced me that bleeding is natural. Faizan was not even kept inside a coffin. For three days [after his body was found] we were not informed. I asked him to show the photographs of where the body was found, but was told the photographs have been destroyed. Is that how an investigation is conducted?”

Faizan was always a good student, his mother said. His family did what they could to help him. They sold some of their jewellery and an uncle who lives in Guwahati pitched in. Faizan attended classes XI and XII from Rajasthan’s Kota and cracked the IIT entrance test, enrolling at IIT Kharagpur in mechanical engineering.

The first year, with Covid raging, Faizan attended classes from home. Towards the end of 2021, he went to Kharagpur and was allotted a room at RP Hall. He could not stay there for long.

During his last visit home or interactions with his uncle, Faizan never referred to any incident of ragging.

“Once he mentioned that someone or some people would switch off the lights in his room while he was studying. He never mentioned anything more than that,” said Rehana.

That Faizan was a victim of ragging came to light after his death.

“There were at least three instances when he had run into trouble with some people,” said Anirudh Mitra, the lawyer fighting the case on behalf of Faizan’s family in Calcutta High Court.

“In February 2022, when he resisted attempts to being ragged, he was dragged out of his room, taken to a field and harassed. He lodged a formal complaint which we recovered later. Despite the clear [anti-ragging] directive from the Supreme Court, the IIT Kharagpur authorities dragged their feet on the matter. No action was taken. None of those accused were suspended.”

According to the lawyer, the next incident happened some months later during a hostel representative election, when Faizan is believed to have refused to vote according to the diktat.

“During this election he was assaulted,” Mitra claimed. “Soon after, he left the room allotted to him and moved to another room at Lala Lajpat Rai Hostel. Something happened around Diwali too. We are trying to find the evidence for these incidents, though the IIT Kharagpur authorities have admitted to the election episode.”

Mitra accused the IIT-Kharagpur authorities of not taking the issue seriously. “They just let the issue fester from day one,” he claimed.

In October 2022, Faizan had made plans to visit Calcutta during Diwali. His uncle had sent him some money for travelling. He was also keen to attend a family wedding in Tinsukia scheduled for October 30.

On October 14, 2022, Faizan was found dead inside a room at the Lala Lajpat Rai Hostel, apparently after being reported missing for three days.

“We could never understand what went wrong,” said Faizan’s uncle from Guwahati. “Why did he stay back in Kharagpur and not visit Calcutta during the festival of Diwali?”

In May 2023, the Calcutta High Court ordered the body be exhumed and a second post-mortem be conducted. The preliminary report of the second post-mortem was submitted last month. The final and detailed report is likely to be submitted when the case comes up for hearing next before the bench of Justice Amrita Sinha.

During a previous hearing it came to light that neither were the injuries on Faizan’s corpse properly documented nor was the first autopsy, conducted at the Midnapore Medical College in October 2022, filmed.

Contacted for the institute’s response, an official with IIT Kharagpur – who refused to be identified – said that the registrar, Captain (retired) Amit Jain, was aware of the matter and would issue a statement at an opportune moment.

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