Kolkata: The fear of Rehana Ahmed has become a reality now.
Rehana Ahmed, the mother of Faizan Ahmed, a third-year student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur, who was murdered inside the hostel last year, is currently experiencing worry. The grieving mother had glimpsed a ray of hope for justice for her only child when the Calcutta High Court not only declared it a ‘homicide‘ but also constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to delve further into the case. However, the IIT Kharagpur authorities have appealed to the double bench court, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, to ‘quash’ the single bench order.
On October 14, 2022, Faizan Ahmed, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student hailing from Tinsukia, Assam, was found partially decomposed inside an IIT Kharagpur hostel. Faizan, an exceptional student who had secured the 11th rank in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2020, was the sole child of Rehana and Salim Ahmed. He was also a member of the Aerial Robotics and RoboSoccer Research teams at IIT KGP, both of which are projects funded at a central level.
In their petition to the double bench, IIT-KGP argued that a doctor’s assertion claimed that the basis for Justice Rajshekhar Mantha’s declaration of Faizan’s death as a homicide, using the report of retired forensic expert Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta, ‘suffers from serious deficiencies,’ whereas the first autopsy report conducted at Medinipur hospital was deemed ‘reliable’.
IIT-KGP also contended that their reputation was being tarnished due to the murder allegation by the court.
“The first postmortem was conducted hastily and without our presence in the room. After the procedure, the deceased body was handed over to us. In contrast, the second postmortem was conducted in the presence of amicus curiae Sandeep Bhattacharya, Dr Ajay Gupta, doctors from Calcutta Medical College, the doctor who had performed the initial autopsy, and myself,” shared Faizan’s mother.
On the other hand, Rehana pointed out, “We did not receive any cooperation or support from either the Kharagpur police or the IIT authorities in this case.”
Rehana disclosed, “We harbored the concern that officials from IIT Kharagpur would attempt to obstruct the investigation. That’s why I wrote two letters – the first to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and later to the Chairman of the Minority Commission. In both, I appealed for their intervention, fearing that the powerful organization that is IIT might hinder the probe. However, I’m unaware if any action was taken in response to my pleas.”
“Thus far, no one has claimed that IIT authorities were responsible for Faizan’s death. IIT officials should consider that if the SIT identifies the perpetrators, it would reinstate the faith of students and parents in the security of life within this prestigious institution. Rather than focusing solely on their image, IIT should prioritize the lives and aspirations of the talented students who arrive with great dreams. However, their petition now suggests that they were involved in concealing the truth regarding the murder of one of India’s most promising students,” stated Faizan’s lawyer, Aniruddha Mitra, in an interview with eNewsroom.
Rehana expressed, “Had there been a demand for justice for Faizan, the tragic death of Swapnadip could have been averted.”
Kolkata has witnessed several protests following the alleged murder of Swapnadip Kundu, a first-year student pursuing Bengali Honours at Jadavpur University. Similar to Faizan’s case, his death was initially classified as a suicide. However, due to mounting pressure from various protests, the police conducted further investigations and uncovered evidence suggesting that he had been allegedly pushed from the hostel building by his seniors. Within a week of the incident, at least three senior students were arrested.
Nonetheless, Faizan’s mother, Rehana, who had spent three weeks beside her son’s lifeless body, received no support, either from the community or the government, in her pursuit of justice. Despite this, she continued her fight with the backing of her legal representatives. After eight months, the high court not only declared her son’s death a murder but also established an SIT to delve deeper into the matter.
“I have said this before and reiterate it now – my battle wasn’t just for Faizan; it’s for every mother and parent whose sons and daughters reside in hostels while pursuing their education. We entrust our children to these institutions, but instead of nurturing them, we sometimes receive lifeless bodies. This must cease, and I believe the court will concur,” she concluded.