Kolkata: For the first time, a vice-chancellor level authority has expressed concern that Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur authorities did not stand with the family of its brutally murdered student, Faizan Ahmed.
Felix Raj, the Vice-Chancellor of St Xavier University, Kolkata, was briefing media persons about the forthcoming lecture of P. Chidambaram, Member of the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, on the Future of Democracy on November 25 in the university campus. The former home and finance minister of India, Chidambaram, will also release a book titled “Development, Decentralisation, and Democracy,” authored by the VC himself and Professor Prabhat Kumar Dutta.
When eNewsroom posed a question as a Vice-Chancellor, asking how he saw the two ragging-related incidents in West Bengal, Felix Raj responded, “This is the turn the two cases have taken, one, as you said, in favour of the victim; the other is indifferent to the victim. But I suppose, as a vice-chancellor or the authority of the university, we must find out the case, make a study, and then see where justice lies.”
He added, “Because victims cannot be just ignored. Victims have to be taken seriously. We should be very sympathetic and try to ensure that such things do not happen in the future. We all have to take all possible measures so that such a thing does not happen in our educational institutions.”
The partially decomposed body of 23-year-old Faizan Ahmed, a resident of Tinsukia, Assam, was found on October 14, 2022, in a hostel of IIT-KGP. Faizan, who had secured the 11th All India Rank (AIR) in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), 2020, was the only child of Salim and Rehana Ahmed and was a genius, selected in two Aerial Robotics Research teams. Soon after the recovery of Faizan’s body, Kharagpur police as well as IIT authorities termed it a case of suicide. However, the family claimed he was murdered. When, even after the postmortem, neither the police nor IIT authorities could satisfy the aggrieved family, they moved to Calcutta High Court. The court appointed a forensic expert who requested a fresh autopsy. After the second postmortem, first, single and later the division bench confirmed that Faizan was murdered and also constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
However, for a year, IIT authorities opposed every proceeding of the case.
Mother Rehana Ahmed claimed that IIT authorities did not extend any support. She had rued, “When we met the authorities, they were not ready to listen to us. They even made fun of the students, comparing them with Rs 10, while their worth is Rs 100.”
Earlier, during his briefing, the VC had also informed that in one of their events, an important topic will be discussed- Why do students of Kolkata and Bengal leave the state after plus two and graduation? A reporter asked the VC if it was because of the ragging case (Swapnadip murder), similar to what happened in Jadavpur. Felix Raj answered and mentioned about the Faizan case in his reply, “It is not an isolated incident that has happened over the years; it is one of the many incidents that has happened. I do not think because something happened in IIT Kharagpur; students will not go there. I do not think it will have such a huge impact that students stop coming to Bengal. But we will surely address the ragging issue, as we are against ragging. Students are students, and education centres are temples of knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes this happens, but we have to stop this.”
In the media interaction, the VC also informed that Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General, will address the 5th convocation of St Xavier scheduled on February 10, 2024. He also informed that on the occasion, Father Ignacimuthu, a scientist, and RN Jhunjhunwala, an Attorney of Law, will be honoured with a Doctor of Science and Doctor of Law, respectively.
The VC also shared the Kolkata Vision 2030 plan of St Xavier’s University and mentioned that not only is a 600-bed hostel almost ready for girls, but the institution is also in negotiation with the West Bengal government to buy 10.7 acres of land in the neighbourhood of the university.
Father Felix Raj also pointed out the two credit systems added in the courses of St Xavier University, under which every student has to spend 60 hours among the locals around the Xavier institutions. “It is a one-of-a-kind system and includes the syllabus because we believe that it is not just our responsibility to impart education to students but also to improve the lives of the locals where the institutions function.”