Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tortuous train escape after ‘ragging’

Sept. 10: A first-year engineering student escaped with two classmates after being allegedly ragged at his Nadia college last night, and changed trains twice in a zigzag journey prompted by panic before passing out.

The unconscious Yasser Arafat Mollah, 18, whose rail trip took him across three districts but not his home district of Burdwan, was rescued by his brother from a train in Bandel station in Hooghly and admitted to hospital in Burdwan.

Arafat, a computer engineering student at the Bipradas Pal Chaudhuri Institute of Technology in Krishnagar, said he had scaled the four-foot-high college wall around 9pm with two of his friends and fled, “unable to bear the ragging by seniors”.

“After a freshers’ welcome party last night, some second-year students came to my dormitory and ordered me to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes. I started feeling sick after puffing two and pleaded that I could not smoke any more. They then ordered me to drink alcohol,” Arafat, a resident of Galsi, Burdwan, said.

“They kicked and punched me and forced me to sniff some powder off a piece of paper while one of the seniors held a lighted matchstick below it. I suspect it was some kind of drug. I managed to break free and ran out of the hostel. Outside, I met two of my batch-mates who too had been ragged.”

Arafat’s elder brother Yasser Jiafat Mollah, who studies zoology at a college in Burdwan’s Raina, said: “I received a call from Arafat around 9 last night. He was crying. I asked him to flee the college immediately and try to reach Burdwan station.”

Arafat said that after scaling the boundary wall, he and his friends took an auto-rickshaw to the railway station.

“One of my friends, who is from Katwa, boarded a local train that stops close to his home. The other friend and I were so scared that we boarded the first train we saw. It was a Lalgola-Ranaghat local. The friend got off at Ranaghat as he lives there and so did I,” he said.

“I then boarded the Sealdah-bound Krishnagar local. I got off at Naihati (North-24 Parganas). It was past 11pm and so I again boarded the first train that came — I was too scared to think clearly. The train was heading towards Bandel. I called my brother and told him to come to Bandel. Then I lost consciousness,” Arafat said.

Jiafat, who stays in his college hostel as his home is 55km away, borrowed some money from friends and hired a taxi to reach Burdwan station.

“I took a train to Bandel. When a train arrived at 12.35pm, I searched the coaches and found my brother lying unconscious in one. Some of the passengers told me the train would go to Burdwan,” Jiafat said. He admitted Arafat to Burdwan Medical College Hospital, where the patient was put on saline drip and given medicines.

Gadadhar Mitra, the hospital superintendent, said tonight: “The boy is in a state of shock. When he came here, he was nervous and shaky. We discharged him this evening and asked his family to consult a psychiatrist, if needed.”

Arafat alleged the seniors had been ragging him since the session started on August 23. “They forced me to climb the college stairs on my knees. They made me run in the rain one day and then forced me to sit under a fan for hours.”

His father Yasin Mollah, a medicine shop owner, called up college principal Dilip Banik and lodged a verbal complaint. Banik said he had informed the police.

“We are investigating the matter. We will send a team to Burdwan to speak to the student,” an officer said.

Banik said the college’s anti-ragging committee met this afternoon and decided to send two of its members to Burdwan with the police team.

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