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'Sexually Abused, Forced to Run Naked': How 'Seniors' Ragged JU Fresher to Death

A report by the probe panel has revealed details about the sequence of events leading to the mishap.

6 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

(Trigger warning: Descriptions of ragging and sexual abuse.)

'Singled out for pre-planned ragging'. 'Sexually abused'. 'Forced to run naked in front of 20 seniors' before his eventual fall.

These are some of the damning details from a report filed by the probe panel of Jadavpur University (JU), constituted to inquire into the circumstances leading to the death of a 17-year-old first-year student on 9 August.

The report by the internal complaints committee (ICC), which has been accessed by The Quint, revealed what happened at the boys' hostel which led to the fresher's death within days of his joining the reputed college.


What Did the Probe Into the Fresher’s Death Reveal?

A member on the panel, who did not want to be identified, highlighted the findings of the committee to The Quint. They listed:

  • Ragging, in its various forms and extents, has been prevalent at the Jadavpur University Main Hostel (JUMH) for a long time. Usually, such form of ragging is passed off by the senior students under the alibi of 'intro', which is supposedly meant for preparing a boarder for the rigours of hostel life. However, it is just an eyewash and a pretext to indulge in a system of ragging, generating a considerable amount of fear-psychosis among freshers.

  • The ragging and 'intro' culture would continue usually for a period of 12-14 months, and more specifically from entry to the JUMH as boarder/guest (usually in July/August) to the subsequent years' 'freshers party' (usually in September, prior to Puja holidays).

The 'freshers' – who were commonly referred to as 'bachhas' – would be:

  • Prohibited from talking on mobile phones in front of seniors.

  • Forced to run errands for the seniors including filling up of water bottles, buying food, cigarettes, bidi, alcohol, sweets, etc from the shops/markets.

  • Forced to wash the seniors' clothes.

  • Forced to write assignments for the seniors.

  • Forced to endure filthy abusive language from the seniors at all times.

  • Forced to utter filthy abusive language during 'intro' sessions; even forced to shout sexist, highly offensive abuses out of the windows, aimed at the adjacent police quarters, during late night hours.

  • Group 'intro' sessions would often force the 'freshers' to strip down to their undergarments (briefs), and then do various activities like dancing.

  • Forced to endure physical tortures at times in the form of 'standing', 'standing atop an almirah' (for indefinite periods), 'rubbing ones face front-on against the wall'.


An Outing That Turned Fatal

The member told The Quint that the 17-year-old student did not attend the late-night group ‘intro’ sessions conducted between 6-8 August in different rooms with the other ‘freshers'.

"His presence was first identified noticeably on the early evening hours of 7 August. On that day, at around 6 pm, around six to seven ‘freshers’, including the 17-year-old, were taken to the nearby South City Mall by one of the main accused, for an outing of sorts, where they were treated to tea and biscuit at a roadside stall by the main accused."

"The deceased's usual easy, smiling demeanor of 7 August during his departmental orientation programme, had been surprisingly replaced by a rather tensed and almost jittery body language during the departmental orientation programme held on 8 August. He even left hurriedly in the middle of the event, without taking his food packet (despite reportedly being hungry), as he was accosted by two of his hostel seniors, who had come to take him away with them," the panel member told The Quint.

On 9 August, after returning to the hostel from classes, the deceased student, along with another fresher, was taken to a nearby roadside tea stall by the two seniors (of which one was the main accused) and asked about the reasons for his sweating, the probe report revealed.

"The fresher had said that he was not comfortable in the hostel as it was getting very scary for him and that he was feeling very homesick. They came back to hostel after 6:30 pm. At around 7:30 pm, the fresher was taken to room number 59 of A-2 block, along with about six to seven ‘freshers’ by the main accused, where they were forced to shout highly objectionable, sexist, and abusive lines directed towards the female residents of the adjacent police quarters."
Panel Member

What Happened On the Night Of 7 August?

He added that the main accused further intimidated the fresher by stating that the ‘police will take action against the latter for his utterances of such abusive words’ towards their quarters.

As per the report submitted by the panel, "At this point the 17-year-old student got very scared and started crying. Almost simultaneously, he felt a sheer bout of stomach pain and sat down clutching his abdomen. He was then given an antacid tablet by a senior, and then singularly led away by few seniors to another room. Thereafter, it was reported that the fresher was at the dining hall for dinner at around 8:20 pm."

"Here too, he was reportedly found to be sweating profusely, appearing to be under severe mental stress. When others asked him about why he appeared to be stressed, the fresher had reportedly stated that he was under tremendous pressure from his senior roommates. He had also said that seniors were indulging in heavy drinking in his room, which was very scary for him."

After dinner, at around 8:45 pm, the fresher was reportedly seen loitering in the corridor carrying a diary in his hand.

"The next session of ragging took place in room number 104 of A-2 block, between 9-10:45 pm, where the fresher was insisted upon putting his signature in a complaint letter addressed to the Dean of Students, allegedly drafted by a senior, against a day scholar of Bengali department in the presence of nearly 12-15 boarders and seniors," the report said.

After this, the freshers, except the 17-year-old student, were asked to attend an all-hostellers general board meeting, it further said.

The fresher was held back by other seniors and was singled out for ragging, which was carried out in a systematic planned manner, having deliberately isolated him for severe ragging, while the rest of his batchmates were far from him attending the hostel general block meeting, the report added.

The Crucial 45 Minutes Before Midnight

The report also took note of how the mess committee members, who should have been part of the general block, were also present with the first-year student during the period between 11:00 pm and 11:45 pm, when "the fatal incident" took place.

The report also noted that a few depositors reported to the panel that past 11:30 pm, one of the depositors reported to have heard a loud cry (for help) from the second floor of A-2 block.

One of the boarders, on hearing the cry went to check it out, and reportedly saw the 17-year-old running in a completely naked state, and desperately trying to enter the toilet of the second floor of A-2 block, and then rushing into room number 65. Even as the fresher tried to close the door of the room, the seniors pushed open and pulled him out, the probe found out.

Thereafter, he was reportedly offered a bottle of water, which he gulped a bit, and then threw the bottle at one of the seniors, all the while standing stark naked in front of the seniors at the second floor's well-lit lobby. The fresher then reportedly started running desperately in the corridor, completely naked, in the presence of around 20 seniors.

"There was a large mob of seniors present in both upper and lower staircases, thereby incidentally blocking any escape route for the fresher. Information regarding the freshers subsequent 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," the report noted.

The committee, which spoke to scores of students, former students, university officials, and employees also said that there was a ‘conspiracy to suppress’ the facts related to the incidents of 9 and 10 August at JUMH, which included cleaning of the blood stains and calling of a general body meeting after the student fell.

“A general narrative regarding the incident was presented before the hostellers and all the boarders were required to follow the narrative in toto while being interrogated by the police, media, or university authority,” the report said.

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