GUWAHATI: The victim of the IIT Guwahati rape incident has expressed fear on bail being granted to Utsav Kadam, the main accused and called it a travesty of justice. 

“The High Court has released him on bail saying he is a future asset. If the court is deciding on the fact that he is an IITian, then I am also an IITian,” the victim, who was allegedly sexually assaulted and left unconscious by her senior(s), told EastMojo

On August 13, 2021, the Gauhati High Court granted bail to Utsav Kadam on grounds that the accused is a future asset being a talented student pursuing a technical course at IIT–Guwahati. The court found no possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence if released on bail. 

However, the victim offered a radically different view, which seems to contradict the court’s assumption. 

“They (friends of Utsav Kadam) are defaming me openly on WhatsApp groups, Twitter and Instagram. I am seeing the posts by IIT-G students as well. There are a lot of people who are supporting me. The Institute is supporting me, my parents are supporting me. But at the same time, there are people within the institute who do not want me to get justice,” she said. 

On March 28, the undergraduate student had alleged sexual assault by unknown seniors of the institute after she was found unconscious outside her hostel late on a Sunday evening. Apart from Utsav, four other students were identified to be involved in this criminal offence.

“From the moment this incident occurred till the time Utsav and the others were brought in by the police for questioning, there were a lot of people openly defaming me with my name being mentioned. Even the people who helped me reach the hospital have been threatened. The ones who used to visit me at the hospital were threatened by some seniors. They stopped visiting me,” she added. 

Also Read | IIT-Guwahati rape: Why were other accused let off despite clear evidence?

According to the victim’s FIR dated April 7, 2021, instead of informing the concerned authorities, the accused persons present at the crime scene employed questionable means to revive the victim back to her senses despite seeing her lying unconscious for a long time. These students turned a blind eye to the criminal act/s perpetrated by the accused, thereby putting the victim’s life in danger. The victim arrived at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital in a critical condition.

The victim claimed that the accused person’s friends have reached out to her friends, other students, with threats of sabotaging their positions in clubs and internships if they spoke to authorities about anything they saw that night. 

“Some of those witnesses are still my friends while others have completely cut ties with me,” the victim said, contradicting the court’s order where the judge said Kadam could not interfere with the investigation. 

The incident has, understandably, taken a mental toll on the victim apart from the physical pain and hurt. “I had to take therapy after the incident and the IIT was very supportive in this regard,” she said. 

The victim has also suffered an academic downturn in the aftermath of the rape. Due to her frequent visits to the police station and the court, she was unable to study well. However, she said her department helped her through. 

What is even more worrying is that even as the investigation was ongoing and Utsav Kadam was in jail, his parents contacted the victim’s parents and tried to put her in a corner by asking questions like “do you know what your daughter has done?”

I will only want to blame the entire incident on Utsav Kadam, she says. 

“If he is being released on bail because he is talented and a future asset, then any future asset can do anything to any human at all. Just because he is a future asset, can he treat a woman like she is beneath him? Just because there is an IIT tag, doesn’t mean he is a future asset. Tomorrow is the charge hearing and my expectation is that the charges are framed.”

Also Read | Exclusive: IIT-Guwahati rape survivor speaks up, says ‘I want justice’

Five months, why are others still off the hook?

One of the more startling revelations from the IIT-Guwahati rape case, especially the institute’s Internal Complaints Committee’s (ICC) report, was the role of at least four other people the night of the incident. The ICC report noted that for two hours on the night of the incident, March 28, “the victim was in an unconscious state for two hours and deliberately left to die by the main accused Utsav Kadam and four other students.”

“Not all details were made crystal clear and there were many loose ends in the statements submitted to the ICC, Chairperson. However, circumstantial evidence points to the fact that all the students mentioned above were involved in this case. The fact that they (names withheld) did not make attempts to provide actual call records retrieved from reliable sources (screenshots do not count as evidence) also shows that they have not made enough efforts to defend themselves in a serious criminal activity which happened in IIT-Guwahati campus,” the ICC report had noted. 

“It was not made clear why (names withheld), who are otherwise not very close friends with Utsav Kadam decided to go to help Utsav Kadam and extricate him out of an incredibly difficult situation. According to (name withheld), he had differences with him and hence avoided his company. According to (name withheld), he only knew him casually. But the circumstantial evidence points towards a close relationship, where they were willing to keep secrets for each other, and protect each other from the authorities (by their own admission).” 

The ICC recommended that the three face expulsion of one academic semester with immediate effect, expulsion from the hostel for a year and payment of a sum of ₹ 50,000 each to the victim. The ICC also favoured “suspended rustication if sexual abuse is proven by a court of law.” 

The committee also recommended taking action against two other students (names withheld) for “being aware of a premeditated event criminal activity against a woman and not reporting it,” and for discussing the victim “unfavourably so as to severely affect her physical and mental health, causing her emotional distress.” 

However, not only has the IIT not taken any action against the alleged accomplices, a source in IIT confirmed that one accomplice has left the Institution having received his degree. “He is now well-placed with a company…it is shocking to see how he has managed to go scot-free,” the source added. The IIT administration is yet to respond to EastMojo’s questions on the veracity of this claim and a host of other questions. The story will be updated as and when they become available. 

One IIT faculty familiar with the matter also expressed shock over how other students have been let go without any action. “Some are of the opinion that these students should not be punished at all as they ‘helped’ the victim. But what kind of help, when they did not even take the victim to the hospital? This clearly indicates that they were trying to save Utsav,” the faculty, who chose to remain anonymous, said. 

One of the accomplices has even been found bragging about ‘almost being arrested’ on Bumble, a dating app. 

Also Read | Nagaland: How COVID & digital divide amplified loss of education for many

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