An Adivasi PG Student Of NBU Dies Of Suicide, Family Allege Ragging

  • October 19, 2023

Groundxero Report | 19th October, 2023


Uttam Mardy (22), a first-year postgraduate Adivasi student of North Bengal University (NBU) committed suicide at his Malda home last Monday on 16 October. Family members of Uttam Mardy have filed a complaint with police and varsity authorities, alleging that he was a victim of ragging and torture at the University hostel. A few weeks back, Uttam had enrolled himself as an MA student of the history department at NBU. He had attended classes for three days and left the university hostel on October 6. He was supposed to take admission at Gour Banga University, but was found hanging in the bathroom of his home on Monday morning.


The Telegraph in a report on the incident quoted Swapan Kumar Rakhit, the NBU officiating registrar, as saying, “We are taking steps according to the norms of the University Grants Commission. The anti-ragging squad has started its probe. But, we have not found any evidence of ragging so far.”


Recently, in August, there was a huge public outcry in the state over the death of a minor first year student of Jadavpur University allegedly because of physical torture and ragging at the hostel. The gory details of  abuse, torture and ragging of freshers which came out following the death of the minor student shocked the whole state. The police had to swing into action and it arrested a number of senior hostel boarders and ex-students in the case, and investigation is still going on. Jadavpur University has decided to segregate first-year students floor-wise after the UGC criticised the university for not adhering to guidelines on separate hostel blocks for first-year students.


Now, the same university has reportedly received two new complaints of ragging. One of the complaints is from the arts faculty on the main campus while the other is from the engineering faculty on the Salt Lake campus. So far, no anti-ragging committee meeting has been convened despite the new complaints.


Neither has the police investigation progressed much into the death of Faizan Ahmed, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student at IIT KGP whose partially decomposed body was found inside a campus hostel on 11 October (2022), despite the intervention of the Kolkata High Court. While Faizan’s parent refused to accept the suicide story and insisted that their son was ragged and killed, both the Kharagpur Police and IIT authorities had claimed from the very beginning that Faizan had committed suicide due to academic pressure. However, due to the efforts of Faizan’s mother to seek justice for her son, and after nearly a year of legal battles and hearings at the High Court, which included a second post-mortem after exhuming Faizan’s body, two benches of the court, first a single judge, and later a division bench, ruled that it was a case of culpable homicide and ordered an investigation by a Special Investigating Team (SIT). The court had also directed the police to include Section 302 of the IPC in the FIR.


When the case again came up for hearing on 13 October 2023, Advocate Anindya Mitra, representing Kharagpur IIT, once again reiterated that there isn’t much to the case and argued the court to dispose of it off. The SIT has yet to file a progress report in one of the most brutal murder cases involving a bright young student from a marginalised community. The court had scheduled the next hearing on November 20 and asked the SIT to submit a progress report on the case by that date.


Faizan’s case doesn’t receive the attention of the media nor the support of the civil society. Ironically, both the state government and IIT authorities did not help the family in the case. In fact both stood against the family in their quest for justice, making Faizan’s mother Rehana Begum wonder, “whom are they protecting”.


Notably, even as the legal battle to seek justice in the case of Faizan’s death is still going on, despite all the hurdles put up by the powerful IIT authorities, death of an another student has been reported from IIT Kharagpur. K Kiran Chandra, a fourth-year student in the electrical engineering department, who hails from Telangana was found dead by his hostel mates on Tuesday night. While the institute said the student “chose the path of self-harm”, the victim’s father and uncle who arrived at the university from their home state Telangana claimed that Kiran was under tremendous pressure from a section of the faculty over completion of a project within a specific period. The police is investigating the case.


In June this year, the body of another student, Suriya Dipen, was recovered under mysterious circumstances from the IIT Kharagpur campus. According to the police, the death was also a case of suicide.


Each and every such incident of the mysterious death of a young student inside a campus, and the complaint of ragging as the cause of death by the concerned student’s family, needs to be probed impartially and sincerely. The authorities declaring them as ‘suicide’ even before any investigation is done,  clearly show that they are more interested in protecting the reputation of the institution than helping and cooperating in fair investigation. In the absence of any media attention and public outcry, the experience of Faizan’s case makes us suspect, whether the ragging angle as an inducement for suicide in the case of Uttam Mardy, and the abnormal student deaths at IIT Kharagpur will at all be fairly investigated.


It is alarming that bright young students are dying, yet as a society, we choose to remain indifferent and silent.


Also read : Had there been a demand for justice for Faizan, the tragic death of the JU student could have been averted : Faizan Ahmed’s mother


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