JU student death: Probe finds victim was chased naked along hostel corridor
A seven-member internal probe committee set up by the university to probe the student’s death has said that the victim had desperately tried to hide himself from the perpetrators
The Jadavpur University student, who allegedly jumped to death from the second floor of his hostel on August 9, was chased in a naked condition along the hostel corridor by his seniors while he was allegedly ragged and sexually harassed by them, according to an internal probe report.
The report by a seven-member internal probe committee set up by the university to probe the 17-year-old first-year student’s death has also said that the victim had desperately tried to hide himself from the perpetrators.
The 46-page report was submitted last week after the committee questioned around 85 people, including hostel inmates, university officials, hostel superintendents and security guards. The 12 students, who were arrested by the police in connection with his death, couldn’t be questioned as they were in custody.
The report, quoting eyewitnesses, said the victim had tried to hide himself in a hostel room and the toilet.
One of the boarders, on hearing the loud cry around 11.30pm on that day, rushed to the second-floor corridor of A-2 block, and reported to have seen the victim running in a completely naked state, and desperately trying to enter the toilet and then rushing into room number 65, the report said. The seniors, however, blocked all his escape routes and dragged him out from the room when he tried to lock its door from inside.
“Even as the victim tried to close the door of the room from inside, Md. Arif and other seniors pushed open the door, and pulled him out. Thereafter, he was reportedly offered a bottle of water, which he gulped a bit, and then threw the bottle at Md. Arif. All this while the victim was standing stark naked in front of many seniors at the 2nd floor well-lit lobby, facing utter humiliation,” said the report, a copy of which is with HT.
The committee’s report, however, failed to shed any light on the final sequence of events that led to the student’s death.
“Information regarding the victim’s movements, just prior to his fatal fall, is rather uncertain and vague, as none of the depositors gave a clear-cut description of the ‘fall’ incident, which could help in ascertaining the cause and sequence of the mishap. Many have reported to have seen him run towards the end of the corridor with Md. Arif following him, but thereafter, the depositors seem to have lost sight of the ‘final fall’ due to one reason or the other,” the report said.
Arif, a third-year student of civil engineering, has already been arrested and is now in judicial custody. He along with 11 other former and current students have been charged with murder and also booked under the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The report said that the victim’s ‘easy and smiling demeanour’ was replaced by ‘rather tense and jittery body language’ by August 8 when he had come to attend the orientation program. He left midway from the program, without collecting his food packet, accosted by two hostel seniors.
The final ragging started around 7.30pm on August 9 when the victim was taken to room number 59 along with 6-7 other freshers.
The committee found that every night during late hours, first-year students coming to stay in the hostel, were forced to shout sexist remarks and abuses targeting women and girls living in the police quarters adjacent as a part of ragging process.
As the victim was reluctant to do it, he was forced to do it multiple times as punishment. According to one of the depositors, the victim appeared literally shattered after this incident, and burst into tears. He was given an antacid when he complained of stomach pain.
“At around 8.20pm he was seen in the dining room profusely sweating. He is learnt to have told an inmate that he was very scared as seniors were drinking alcohol in the room. The next session of ragging started around 9pm in room 104,” said a committee member.
The committee also found that a general body (GB) meeting of the hostel was held at 11pm where all freshers were asked to come except the victim. He was held back by some seniors in the hostel while others attended the meeting.
“As it seems, the victim was singled out for ragging, which was carried out in a systematic planned manner, deliberately isolating him for severe ragging, while rest of his batchmates were far from him attending to the hostel GB,” said the report.
Some of the depositors told the probe committee during questioning that they had heard a student crying for help around 11.45pm. One of the depositors who sprinted to the second floor spotted the victim running in a naked condition along the corridor.
The probe committee has recommended expelling of four university students, who are among 12 people arrested for the role in the death. One student was arrested on charges of trying to obstruct the police from entering the campus.
The victim was found lying near the hostel building in a naked condition and profusely bleeding. He was rushed to the hospital a little after midnight and died in the early hours of August 10.
The probe committee found that after the student was taken to the hospital, a series of general body meetings were held by the accused persons where a narrative was prepared, which was supposed to be told to the police, university officials and media.
“All the accused persons were giving a similar kind of version which seemed to be tutored during the initial stages of interrogation. They, however, differed when details were sought and the crime scene was reconstructed,” said a senior police officer.