Guwahati: Days after the March 28 incident when an undergraduate student of the IIT Guwahati was allegedly sexually assaulted by a fellow student on the campus, the preliminary medical report has confirmed the same, officials with direct knowledge said on Thursday.
An investigation by EastMojo has revealed that the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) doctors complained to the police about the incident on March 29. But the IIT administration reported it to the police only on April 3 after it completed a fact-finding probe which also concluded it to be a possible case of sexual assault. The fact-finding probe notes the survivor’s statement that she was forced to drink alcohol by the accused as part of ragging.
“The medical examination report has details of injuries,” said a senior official at the GMCH. “The report was sent to the police on April 5…it’s a case of rape,” the official added. EastMojo has reviewed portions of the report.
Hitesh Ch Roy, Superintendent of Police, Kamrup said the case is under investigation. “The investigating officer has been given a free hand,” he said. The police arrested Utsav Kadam, a student of IIT-Guwahati only on April 3 for his alleged involvement in the crime.
Why was the victim discharged against medical advice?
North Guwahati Police station in Kamrup district first registered an FIR on March 30 based on a “requisition” received from the Bhangagarh police station.
As per case documents, on March 29, Arnab Choudhury, a doctor on duty at the GMCH, submitted a written complaint to Bhangagarh officer in-charge stating the admission of the IIT student at the hospital earlier. The complaint also mentioned “ingestion of unknown substance and sexual assault” as per a letter to the chief judicial magistrate by Investigating Officer M Baishya regarding grounds of arrest of the accused.
As per case documents reviewed by EastMojo, Choudhury also informed the Bhangagarh police station that the survivor was discharged against medical advice. The letter by Bhangagarh officer in-charge to North Guwahati Police station mentions two sets of information: a general diary entry on March 29 about the admission of the survivor at the GMCH and another general diary entry on March 30 which is an “information copy of leave against doctor’s advice.”
In an earlier statement, IIT-Guwahati had claimed how “some sections of the media have been filing unverified reports about the incident and about the Institute discharging the girl student from GMCH without following doctors advice… all due procedures were followed as per hospital guidance for discharge of the girl student.”
However, a GMCH official disputed the IIT-Guwahati’s claim. “It is not true. They should produce the discharge slip. We conveyed it to the police also as to how the patient was discharged against doctor’s advice,” the official said. EastMojo has also reviewed the discharge slip which notes the same.
What is more surprising, is that even the IIT-Guwahati’s fact-finding committee report does not have any mention of the circumstances under which the survivor was discharged from the hospital.
Meanwhile, the police said the IIT authorities informed them about them about the case first on April 3, six days after the incident. “We registered an FIR on March 30 immediately after we received the information from Bhangagarh police station. Another FIR was registered on April 3 after IIT forwarded us the internal inquiry report. The two FIRs will be merged,” Subhash Ch Das, the officer in-charge at North Guwahati Police station, told EastMojo.
“As mentioned earlier, the institute has been cooperating with the police investigation in this matter and does not wish to comment any further,” an IIT-Guwahati spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that IIT “condemns such heinous acts in the strongest possible terms” and is putting in place “enhanced safety and security measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”
In an earlier statement, IIT-Guwahati said that it had left the matter of filing the FIR with the student and her guardians. “The student and her guardians were informed that they could file an FIR, which they have refused presently as they want the institute to take up the case,” a statement from IIT-Guwahati said on April 3.
Kadam, meanwhile, was suspended only on April 4, six days after the incident and a day after he was arrested. Four other students were isolated, IIT-Guwahati said in a statement on April 5.
“In cases of sexual violence in campus, the internal committee of the institution must follow procedure as per the law. They must lodge FIR without delay in cases of sexual assault,” said Anurita Hazarika, Director at North East Network (NEN). “The institutions must support the survivor till justice is done,” she said.
Fact-finding committee reveals ragging leading to incident
IIT-Guwahati first sprung into action on March 29 as it formed a fact-finding committee to probe the incident, the same day the doctors at the GMCH told the police that they suspect it to be a case of sexual assault.
The committee interacted with as many as 18 students to piece together the March 28 incident.
According to the fact-finding report, there was a meeting of one of the students clubs on campus. The report notes how the seniors, including the accused student, were not happy with the working of the club. “They also told some of the students that their Personality Development Programme—a form of ragging—has not happened so far so they should go through PDP,” the report notes.
According to the survivor’s statement to the fact-finding committee, after the meeting, Kadam took her to a part of the campus “where he forcefully asked her to drink as a part of PDP (ragging). Immediately after the drink she felt uneasy, her body became cold, and she passed out,” the report says.
After 9 pm, when the survivor became unconscious as per the committee report, Kadam started making calls to other students. The first call was made at around 10.26 pm when he asked another friend to get lime and water. The friend arrived with two others to find the survivor unconscious.
At 11.44 pm, the report notes, calls were made to the roommate of the survivor. When she arrived at the scene, the survivor was still unconscious. The report notes that Kadam was not in favour of calling an ambulance. Meanwhile, after the ambulance finally arrived, she was first taken to the campus hospital where doctors referred her to GMCH.
“Given the fact that the girl was unconscious for more than 2 hours, and as per the GMCH discharge report as well as depositions made by the students, the committee believes that this could be a possible case of sexual assault,” the fact-finding report notes even as it recommended that the case be forwarded to the internal complaints committee.