Kolkata: The mother of Faizan Ahmed, 23, a student of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, West Bengal, whose decomposed body was found in the hostel, has fervently appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to urgently and immediately intervene, while seeking justice from her.
Even 12 days after the shocking incident, which led to students’ protests in the campus, the death of Faizan, a member of the Aerial Robotics Research Team in Kharagpur, remains a mystery. He was also an active member of the Students’ Welfare Group and UG Students’ Council.
On October 14, the partially decomposed body of the third-year Mechanical Engineering student was found inside the LLR Hostel. While the administration has claimed that the student committed suicide, the family believes that he was murdered.
The incident has not only shaken the parents, but most IITians in the campus are in a state of shock. They protested, held a night-long public meeting with the director, and organized a candlelight march in solidarity with their deceased fellow student.
“On October 11, he spoke to me about lunch. He said that it was a tasty meal. Then he said bye, mentioning he had to reach the library. In the evening, around 7.30 pm, when he was going for dinner, he spoke to his aunt and said, “Kadi wagairah bana hoga, kha lenge. Itna apne mausi ko bol kar usne phone rakh diya ( Kadhi etc will be in the menu, will eat it, he told his aunt and discontinued the call,” Rehana Ahmed, his mother, told eNewsroom.
Her voice choking, she said, “I want to know how did it happen so suddenly? Who did it? My son was a guest of Bengal, but Bengal did not return my son. A mother is requesting Didi (Mamata Banerjee) to give her justice.” Rehana broke down.
The family lives in Tinsukia, Assam. The parents have written to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan for a high-level inquiry. Sarma tweeted about the incident and has written to the Bengal CM seeking a probe into the death.
Who was Faizan?
Faizan is the only son of Rehana and Salim Ahmed. According to his family and friends, he was brilliant. He has been the winner of three gold medals at the state-level ‘Mathematics and Chemistry Olympiad’ —twice in Mathematics, and once in Chemistry.
“Since childhood, I have tried to make him participate in every competition in which he was eligible to appear. I used to tell him not to worry about winning or losing, just participate and enjoy. He used to consistently bring medals home,” said his mother.
His father said, “The meaning of his name was a ‘blessing’ and he was a blessing for us in a real sense. He would have been a blessing to the world.”
“There was always a smile on his face. His friends told me that even when somebody used to greet him with ‘Hi’, he would respond with a smile. When he visited us, at the dining table or at home, he used to bring life to the surroundings,” said his mother.
“Yes, Faizan was a happy boy and he used to smile a lot. He was a cut above a lot of IIT boys,” a fourth-year IIT student, told eNewsroom, but did not want to reveal his identity.
“He was a very confident student and smiled every time we met. I have known him since my Kota days where we both did coaching. But, in Kota, we were not close. When we arrived in Kharagpur and met in the campus, we became good friends. Faizan was special,” said a third-year student, requesting anonymity.
Member of the Aerial Robotics Research Team
Faizan was a member of the Aerial Robotics Team in Kharagpur. Abbreviated as ARK, it is one of the new projects in IIT geared towards research in robotics. The research group is sponsored by SRIC (Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy) as part of the Centre for Excellence in Robotics. The Facebook page of Aerial Robotics, Kharagpur, shows that he was selected for the team after a test in 2021.
The extra-ordinary student was also team member of Kharagpur RoboSoccer Students’ Group (KRSSG).
Faizan used to take online Mathematics classes as well. He had created a profile at sites like SuperProf.com.
The IITian and research scholar was active on Facebook but his profile remained locked. His profile is named as Faiz Ahmed. The bio mentioned shows that he was a member of the Students’ Welfare Group and UG Students’ Council.
Response of the administration, IIT, Kharagpur
The family, which held a press conference in Assam, alleged that they were not shown CCTV footage by the IIT authorities. They demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the mysterious death.
“They did not show us the CCTV footage. How is it possible that such a big institution would not have a CCTV camera in its hostels,” questioned Faizan’s aunt, Salma Ahmed. “They did not care for a grieving family either. It is a pre-planned murder.”
“After the incident, first, they told us that he died from hanging, then, that he was mentally unstable, and, finally, that he has had a heart attack! None of these are true. His nose was not visible,” Rehana Ahmed told media persons in Assam.
The family claimed that neither did they receive a call from the administration nor were they briefed properly about the incident when they reached the campus. Rehana said that when they reached the campus and spoke to the IIT director and deputy director, they had no answers to their questions. “We were not informed by the IIT administration; the police informed us. The warden said that he was unwell so he could not visit the hostels for three days. Is this how a premier institution functions?”
“Surprisingly and shockingly, one person (his surname was reportedly Das) kept smiling throughout the meeting with the authorities. While we were grieving, they expressed no seriousness. Das was smiling in front of Faizan’s mother, who had lost everything,” a relative said.
“They are also saying that he was staying in a single room, but his clothes and other items were recovered from the double and triple rooms,” said a relative. Faizan had some issues in the hostel he was staying, so he had recently shifted to another one, according to sources.
Administration accepts glaring lapses
“Since we recovered Faizan’s dead body, there have been major protests inside the campus. We demanded the resignation of the Director, Virendra Kumar Tewari, for the negligence of the IIT authorities leading to Faizan’s death. Seeing the protest, Deputy Director, Amit Patra, addressed us in an Open House on the night of October 22,” said the third year IIT Kharagpur student.
The Open House started at 8.30 pm and went on till 7 am the next morning. The authorities accepted their lapses in handling the situation (Copy with eNewsroom). However, students, wearing black ribbons, were adamant in seeking the resignation of the director.
Students said that the open house had to end as the director fell ill. The deputy director reportedly said that they will convene another meeting with the students.
Rehana Ahmed also addressed the students on October 20 in the campus. “The administration had said sorry to us. But, what I will do with their sorry? It will neither bring back Faizan nor will it do justice.”
Investigating officer Samar Layek of Kharagpur town police station told eNewsroom, “Investigation is going on. It will take some time to reach any conclusion. We have interrogated more than 10 people, including students,” As for the post-mortem report, he said, “We have not got it till now.”