The Calcutta High Court today pulled up the Director of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, the premiere engineering college that made headlines for the death of a student on campus, saying he should have been aware that children with superior abilities come to the institute from different social or economic backgrounds, and may not be able to freely mix with students from other backgrounds. It also observed that counselling sessions at the college should reach “lowest levels”. The court had, on December 1 last year, reprimanded him for not acting on a ragging complaint, which was followed by the death of the student.
“We can’t see any soft peddling in this matter. It is a humble request from this court. Please don’t take any sides,” the court told the police today.
A detailed report was presented in court today addressing the lacunae, replacing the earlier “casual report” filed by the Director. The court had earlier slammed the college’s vague report on action taken following a ragging complaint of 23-year-old Faizan Ahmed from Tinsukia in Assam in February, months before his decomposing body was discovered in a hostel.
A high-powered committee is to be set up if its guidelines are in harmony with the order of the Supreme Court on ragging, the IIT informed the court.
“It is submitted that a meeting of the Board Of Governors has been fixed on February 10. It is expected that stern and deterrent measures are taken by the IIT Kharagpur not only in this incident but also to prevent recurrence of aforesaid incidents in future,” it further stated.
The college Director said he considers the students his own children, and stern action will be taken. “All my students, I will call them my sons and daughters. And I have told this to everyone. When it happened, I was shocked. The court has ordered stern action, and it will be taken. There are no lapses,” Virendra Tewari, Director of IIT Kharagpur, said.
Incensed at the college Director’s handling of the incident and the concern raised by the parents of the deceased student, the bench said, “Is this how a director of a premier institute behaves?” It then asked him is he had children.
“Yes sir, I have two sons,” he responded, to which the court said the boy’s parents are so poor they don’t have money to come and appear in the court.
“What is more important? Appearing before the High Court or going to Tokyo?” the bench questioned, to which the Director’s lawyer informed the court that he is going there as part of a government delegation.
Consideration of the status of the investigation shall be on February 6, and the court must be apprised of it on the same day, the High Court said, adding that the role of the IIT and the direction on them shall be considered on February 13, when the matter will be next heard.
The Calcutta High Court had ordered the Director to be present at this hearing of the petition filed by third year Mechanical Engineering student Faizan Ahmed’s parents, who have alleged that their son’s death at the premises of the institute was a ‘clear case of murder’ and he was subject to ragging even after complaints to the authorities.
Faizan Ahmed’s decomposing body was recovered from a hostel room on October 14 last year. The court had asked for a report from the IIT Director and after going through it, it said the report of the Director is “thoroughly misleading” if not an attempt to cover up.
Ranajit Chatterjee, Faizan Ahmed’s Family’s lawyer, told NDTV, “I raised three issues. One, the body not being detected. Two, the victim, Faizan escaping from the hostel allotted to another one and apparently without the knowledge and detection of the authorities. How could that happen? I questioned this to the IIT. The learned judge said if these answers are not there, tell us, and we will handle it.”
“The other aspect was the handling and the behaviour of the IIT authorities with the parents and the body itself after detection. There was much to be desired there. The body was allowed to decompose for a further 24 hours instead of being preserved. These are the issues which only the IIT can address. If the answers are not there in the report that has been filed in court today and furnished to me, I will point this out,” Mr Chatterjee added.
What was initially believed to be a case of death by suicide by one of the students at IIT Kharagpur, due to academic pressure, was alleged to be a case of murder by the student’s family, with the Calcutta High Court ordering the police to check whether the Supreme Court’s anti-ragging guidelines were followed at the premier higher education institute.
In view of the large number of discrepancies pointed out by the parents of Faizan Ahmed, the court had earlier ordered the police to present the case diary and instructed the district’s top police officer to conduct a detailed investigation.
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