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Ragging, ‘institutional coverup’ and a mother’s fight for justice: How the brutal murder of IIT Kharagpur student was made to look like suicide

The parents of Faizan Ahmed were dismayed by the investigation carried out by Kharagpur police. They accused the IIT-Kharagpur authorities of trying to pass their son's untimely death as a 'suicide.'

The day was 14th October 2022. The semi-decomposed body of a 23-year-old boy, identified as Faizan Ahmed, was found in his hostel room at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur).

Ahmed was a native of Tinsukia district of Assam and was a 3rd-year student at the Mechanical Engineering Department of IIT Kharagpur. It was initially suspected by the local police that he died of suicide.

According to IIT Kharagpur Registrar Tamal Nath, Ahmed’s room in the Lala Lajpat Rai (LLR) hostel was forcibly opened after receiving no communication from him. He was last seen 3 days earlier on 11th October 2022.

The dubious ‘suicide angle’

When Ahmed’s parents were informed of his untimely death, they refused to believe the ‘suicide angle.’ They demanded a full-fledged police inquiry and alleged that the 23-year-old IITian was murdered.

“Our son who was so jovial during the family event, cannot kill himself. He was murdered. We demand that a proper inquiry be held into the events leading to his death and how he died,” Faizan Ahmed’s mother was quoted as saying.

In the meantime, the students of the prestigious institution carried out protests, demanding justice for the deceased student. On 20th October 2022, the Deputy Director of IIT Kharagpur Amit Patra met the students and acknowledged lapses on the part of the institution.

Parents of Faizan Ahmed approach Calcutta High Court

Around that time, it came to light that Ahmed suffered ragging at the Rajendra Prasad Hall of Residence during an ‘assimilation programme’ held between February and March 2022. The victim was reportedly humiliated in front of his batchmates, which forced him to change his hostel.

The parents of Faizan Ahmed were dismayed by the investigation carried out by Kharagpur police. They accused the IIT-Kharagpur authorities of trying to pass their son’s untimely death as a ‘case of suicide.’

Forced by circumstances, they moved the Calcutta High Court on 1st November 2022 demanding a probe by the Crime Investigation Department (CID), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The court directed the Kharagpur police to determine whether IIT-Kharagpur adhered to the anti-ragging guidelines [pdf] laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Faizan Ahmed’s case.

“From the bare look of the body, it seems to be a clear case of ragging and student enmity taking horrendous proportions,” it said in its verdict on 4th November 2022. The breakthrough in the case, however, came 6 months later in April 2023.

A single-judge bench of the Calcutta High Court ordered the officials to exhume the body of the deceased IIT student and conduct a second post-mortem.

Key findings missing in first autopsy report

In his verdict, Justice Rajasekhar Mantha,”The body of the victim has been buried as per Muslim rites at Assam. Let the body of the victim Faizan Ahmed is ordered to be exhumed. The investigating officer in the matter shall coordinate with the Assam Police and ensure that the body and/or remains are exhumed, brought to Kolkata by the State Police and a fresh post-mortem is conducted.”

It must be mentioned that the first post-mortem, conducted at the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital, was inconclusive in nature. Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta told the court that three key findings were missing in the report. These included:

  1. Two visible injury marks on the back of the head.
  2. No examination was done of the skull’s base
  3. Cut marks on Faizan Ahmed’s arms were inflicted after death

He had recommended the court to exhume the body of Faizan Ahmed at the earliest and conduct a second autopsy.

The second autopsy of Faizan Ahmed

Following the order of the Calcutta High Court, the body of Faizan Ahmed was taken to Kolkata from Assam by the West Bengal police. A second autopsy was done on 27th April 2023 by Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta appointed by the court.

In June of that year, the Calcutta High Court observed that the cause of death of the IITian was ‘homicidal’. It also directed the police to include Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 302 (murder) in the case. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted to probe Ahmed’s untimely death.

The observations were upheld by a Division Bench comprising of Justices TS Sivagnanam and Hiranmai Bhattacharyya in August 2023.

The murder angle and a mother’s fight

In February this year, the Calcutta High Court directed the SIT, probing the death of Faizan Ahmed, to speed up the investigation.

“The investigation has to be concluded at the earliest. The SIT has to file its report on March 18. The investigating agency will not submit its report without the permission of the court. The court will go through the documents of the probe,” Justice Jay Sengupta ordered.

In May 2024, the expert who conducted the second autopsy, Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta submitted in court that Faizan Ahmed was murdered. The deceased IIT-Kharagpur student had sustained stab and gunshot injuries to his neck.

Dr Gupta further added that human blood was found in the hair strands, spine, mandible, nail cuttings and muscles of the deceased. It also came to light that the temporal bone of Faizan Ahmed’s skull was missing.

However, the truth in the matter would not have been uncovered without the relentless pursuit of the case by his mother Rehana Ahmed. She told The Telegraph, “The IIT is involved in my son’s death…From where do students get guns, swords and knives inside the campus of a premier institute like the IIT?”

“There was so much blood on his body and around him…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?” she further added.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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