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Glasgow suspect and ragging

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DAVANGERE, India (AP) — Kafeel Ahmed didn’t seem the least bit angry as a young engineering student.

Instead, according to former teachers and students, the 28-year-old Indian engineer — who today is in a Scottish hospital with critical burns after ramming a Jeep into the Glasgow airport — was a brilliant but shy young man who could be reduced to tears by teasing.

Ahmed was painfully nervous during his first month at the University Brahmappa Devendrappa Tavanappanavar College of Engineering, said K.V. Arun, who studied at the school with Ahmed and now teaches there.

The first weeks of school are a time when many Indian college students face hazing, known here as “ragging.” In some schools the hazing can be brutal, ranging from physical assaults to sexual abuse, but there was nothing like that in this south Indian town.”The ragging here is not very serious … mostly asking new students to sing or dance. But he was always very nervous during that time and once or twice he even started crying,” said Arun. “But,” Arun added, “no one can deny that he was brilliant.”

Ahmed’s college record shows he ranked fifth in a graduating class of nearly 400, earning a degree in mechanical engineering in 2000.

In most ways, though, he wasn’t memorable.

“He was very quiet and didn’t really mingle much with students or teachers outside the classroom,” said D. Abdul Budan, head of the school’s mechanical engineering department.

“He was a simple and well-behaved boy … really there were no signs that he may turn to terror,” said P.M. Prabhuswamy, who taught Ahmed in the second of his four years at this tree-lined campus.

He seemed innocuous, and the photograph on his college application shows a serious, bespectacled young man just shy of his 18th birthday.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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