One of India’s best engineering colleges is struggling with drug abuse on campus.
Several students of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-K) are suspected to be using banned drugs, prompting the college authorities to reach out to the district administration in the northern Indian city, the Times of India newspaper reported on Dec. 09. “As per an internal assessment (probe), a few hundred bright students of the institute are using drugs on the campus and the situation is alarming,” acting director Manindra Agarwal told the newspaper.
IIT-K did not respond to an emailed questionnaire from Quartz, and efforts to reach the dean of student affairs via phone were unsuccessful.
Among India’s oldest Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT-K has produced some of the country’s best-known engineers, including Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, and Som Mittal, former chairman of Indian IT lobby Nasscom. The institute currently has nearly 6,500 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programmes.
The institute’s own probe, according to the newspaper, found that “insiders,” including students, security personnel, and temporary staff at IIT-K, themselves were into drug-peddling. The institute is now working with the local police to crack down on those involved. “We have raised the issue with district magistrate Surendra Singh, who has acknowledged the fact and assured an immediate and appropriate response,” Agarwal added.
Separately, Singh, the district magistrate of Kanpur city, told the Times of India that a team of investigators is working on the case and has raided a couple of pharmacies in the neighbourhood as part of the probe. ”Consumers of drugs are on the campus and they do not go out anywhere. We have asked the institute administration to keep wardens alert and watch the activities and report to us,” he said. Singh’s mobile phone was unavailable when Quartz contacted him.
Anonymous police sources told The Telegraph newspaper that students were primarily using ganja (marijuana), hashish, and heroin. These are among the more popular illegal drugs in the country, according to government data.
IIT-K is also stepping up security, and restricting outsiders’ entry, the India Today magazine reported. “We do not want outsiders to access hostels and, therefore, have decided to provide a separate passage to the locals…to reach their destinations instead of passing through the main entrance of the institute,” Agarwal told the magazine. The institute has barred the entry of two dozen washermen into the campus, The Telegraph newspaper reported, and has, instead, installed washing machines in student hostels.
This, however, isn’t the first time that IIT-K has faced such an issue. “A few months ago, we had got five drug peddlers arrested with drugs in their possession. Also, names of some of the students had come up who were counselled,” Agarwal told the Times of India. “The arrests had impacted the drug supply on the campus for a while, but it resurfaced after some new drug suppliers emerged and became active.”