A 19-year-old Behala boy studying hotel management in Bhubaneswar was found dead by the railway tracks there on Wednesday morning along with a friend who hailed from Jamshedpur.
In Calcutta, Kaustav Dasgupta's uncle alleged that he was being tormented by senior students at the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition.
The authorities at the institute's hostel alerted police after Kaustav and fellow first-year student Abhinav Panda were absent at the routine roll call before dinner on Tuesday. GRP personnel found their bodies about 1km from the institute in the morning.
Kaustav's family members, residents of Bamacharan Roy Road, did not lodge any ragging complaint but the police in Odisha did not rule out foul play.
"From what I have seen and after speaking to the police and hostel authorities, it seems to be an accident, but I hope the police will find out the truth behind my son's death," Kaustav's father Kamal Dasgupta, mathematics teacher at Orient Day School in Behala, said in Bhubaneswar.
Kaustav's school friends in Calcutta told Metro that he often complained of severe ragging at the hostel. "Some of his seniors would make him stand naked holding his ears. They would also force him to sweep the floor, wash dishes and do their assignments. Whenever we chatted on Facebook, Kaustav would tell us how he was tortured there," said Sudipto Chakraborty, a school friend of Kaustav.
Till Wednesday evening, there was nothing to establish a link between the allegations of ragging and Kaustav's death.
Kaustav's body was lying on the tracks while Abhinav's was about 10ft away. "It seemed Kaustav had been crushed under the train and his friend hurled off the tracks after being hit," said a police officer.
"There were several injuries on Kaustav's body, all of which seemed to have been inflicted by the train hit. Whether it was an accident or suicide cannot be said yet," said the officer.
Kaustav, who had come to Calcutta on Friday, left for Bhubaneswar on Sunday. He had told his friends in the city that he was being ragged more in the recent past.
The teenager spoke to his mother around 7.30pm on Tuesday. An hour later, the hospital superintendent called his parents to say that Kaustav was not in the hostel and could not be contacted.
When his parents, too, could not reach him over the phone, they lodged a missing complaint with Behala police station.
Kamal identified the body after reaching Bhubaneswar on Wednesday morning.
The police said no train driver had reported running over somebody to the stationmaster at Bhubaneswar station. "Had the students come in front of the train, the driver would have seen them and issued a memo to the guard. It seems that they were walking too close to the tracks and got dragged by the train," said an officer.
"We will visit the nearby areas and ask residents if they had witnessed the incident," added the officer.