Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
(Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide. If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs)
"My son was a gentle soul. He never argued or took up fights with anyone. We were planning a grand birthday celebration for his 18th birthday on 31 October – but now, all of that is gone."
The cries of a distraught mother, an ASHA worker, have been piercing the heart of visitors at her home in Ranaghat in West Bengal's Nadia district – nearly 80 kilometres from Kolkata.
A 22-year-old former student S (name withheld), who graduated in 2022 but was still living on campus, was arrested on 11 August in connection with the case and charged under Sections 302 (murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Two more students of the university – a second-year economics student and a second-year sociology student – have also been arrested.
'Our Son Was Tortured & Murdered on Campus': Father
Just three days before the incident, the victim's father, who is a bank employee, had travelled to Kolkata to drop his son off at the campus.
On the same day, on 6 August, they met S, now the main accused in the case, who promised to "take care of him."
"S (former student) promised to take care of my son and treat him like a younger brother. But this is what he did," the grieving father told The Quint.
Three days later, on 9 August, the minor student "fell from the balcony of the hostel building under mysterious circumstances" around 11:45 pm, the Kolkata Police told The Quint. He was found naked, they added.
According to police sources, the victim was reportedly heard shouting, "I'm not gay," before the fall. The minor's father alleged that his son was "severely tortured and murdered by his seniors in the hostel."
The family also told The Quint that two days after he reached the campus, the minor was asked to 'trim his hair.'
"My son had also trimmed his hair on 8 August after being told by S and some other students in the hostel. He had called his mother [that day] and sounded scared. On 9 August, he was brutally tortured. He had called his mother again around 11 pm [on 9 August] from an unknown number and told her about the wrongdoings in the hostel. He had also asked his mother to come and take him away. That was his last call."Victim's Father
"My wife kept calling my son on his phone but he kept cutting the calls. We could sense something was terribly wrong as this was highly unlikely of him. The seniors who were torturing him kept calling us from other numbers and kept assuring us that our son was fine. But we could hear his screams in the background," the father alleged.
He added that his son was supposed to visit them in Ranaghat on 11 August. "The seniors got a hint that we knew something was wrong... They feared that everything would have come out in the open. So, they threw him from the building and killed him," he alleged.
According to the father, his son's body had "multiple injuries caused by severe assault and cigarette butt marks," adding that "the priest who conducted the last rites was shocked to see his condition."
'He Was Loved by Everyone, Wanted To Study Bengali'
"He was loved by everyone. He was a quiet and disciplined child. We never heard him talking disrespectfully with anyone. He was very friendly with other students but used to come directly home without spending time with any of them," the victim's maternal aunt told The Quint.
The victim was a student of Bagula High School and had enrolled at the Computer Science Department at the Srikrishna College in Bagula. However, when he got admission to JU to pursue Bengali (Honours), he chose to go to his 'dream college.'
"It was his dream to study in Jadavpur University. He was happy when he got the admission. His father was not very keen on sending the son to Kolkata as he wanted him to study locally. He thought that since he was from a village, it would be difficult for him to adjust. But his father eventually agreed," the victim's aunt recalled.
"He was not only good in studies but also very well-behaved. Whenever we used to talk to him, he used to listen, only then he would answer calmly after taking his time. We are very much distressed to learn about such a shocking incident. It seems that we have lost our child," said Utpal Biswal, head of Bagula High School.
'No Mother Should Lose Her Child Like This'
A team of led by Ananya Chakraborti, chairperson at West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights, visited the victim's house on 13 August.
"We have asked cops to register the case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as the victim was a minor. The crime, if proved, can result in life imprisonment or even the death penalty," Chakraborti told the media.
"The hostel authorities are also to be blamed as the hostel didn't maintain a register to trace the entry of alumni or outsiders. There was also no CCTV camera to find out the sequence of events that unfolded on that fateful night," she added.
The university, meanwhile, has asked all first-year male boarders of the main hostel to 'temporarily shift to a new facility' after the minor's death.
"It is further notified that no passed-out students as well as outsiders are allowed to stay in the hostels with immediate effect. Hostel superintendents are requested to send the names of such passed out students or outsiders, as the case maybe, who does not comply with the said instruction," the university further added.
The mother, who's now demanding a a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] enquiry into the matter, said, "God will never forgive those who have killed my son."
(Gurvinder Singh is a Kolkata-based independent journalist.)