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Student's suicide singes college

Jagadish Angadi and Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui Bangalore: 2:00 IST
Over a thousand students of a city college laid a siege to their college, alleging that academic pressure and relentless harassment by the management of the institution drove an engineering student, Jitendra Sai, to his death.

Students of Amrita Institute of Technology and Science lay siege to the college after Jitendra Sai (inset) committed suicide in Bangalore on Friday. DH Photo / S K DineshJitendra, 20, a student of BE 2nd semester (Electronics and instrumentation) at the Amrita Institute of Technology and Scince, off Sarjapura Road was found by his classmates hanging from the ceiling in his room at the college hostel.

Protesting students charged the college management with being responsible for Sai’s death. The student was still breathing when found by his classmates, but the latter were prevented by college authorities from saving him, on the ground that it was a medico-legal case. The students’ sit-in at the college, that began in the afternoon, continued late into the night.

They demanded that stern action be taken against hostel wardens Lakshman Khare and Karunakar Babu who prevented them from saving Jitendra, and change of college rules to reduce academic pressure. They also wanted strict action against Dr S G Rakesh, Associate Dean of the college, who, they said, had formulated academic rules imposing intolerable burden on students that had forced Jitendra to take his life.

When Jitendra did not attend classes in the morning, classmates peeped into his room, No 224 of the college hostel, around 12:45 pm. Horrified at finding him hanging from the ceiling, they made desperate attempts to save him.

Wardens Khare and Babu, they claim, rushed in and prevented them from attending to him, arguing that it was a medico-legal case.

The students urged the college authorities to provide immediate medical aid to Jitendra but he was reportedly let to die as the doctor who arrived 25 minutes later proved incompetent to handle the situation.

Worse, the doctor asked the students to administer oral resuscitation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Thus, before proper medical aid could arrive, Jitendra died, his friends alleged.
The suicide and the alleged indifference of the college authorities to Jitendra’s death and their own demands infuriated about 1,000 students who staged a flash protest, sat in a dharna, and locked the gates. In no time, the college turned into a highly volatile zone.

The assurance by the college management of forming a committee entirely of students to conduct an inquiry into the incident failed to convince the protesters who continued their agitation till late night. Last reports said the students were continuing their protest and had declined the management’s offer.

Police have also buttressed the students’ stand and say there are “several issues” with the college which is a deemed university run the Mata Amritanandamayi group.

Jitendra was from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh. He joined the college in 2009 and was supposed to be in 5th semester of the course. But he had failed in a few subjects and lost three semesters. His friends say the college subjected him to “undue academic pressure and constantly harassed him to perform well”.

“The college authorities are more interested in failing us and making money,” several students said, referring to the heavy penalties imposed on them if they fail in a single subject.

A student who fails in one subject has to pay a fine of Rs 6,000. Besides, the college has introduced several “draconian” rules. For instance, a student who celebrates his/her birthday in the campus/hostel is suspended from one semester and slapped with a fine of Rs 25,000, they said.

Dr Rakesh, however, defended the “draconian” rules, saying they are to rein only two percent of the students who do not perform well. “We implement a set of rules. There is no pressure on the students,” he told Deccan Herald.

He refused to comment when asked about the delay in providing medical aid to Jitendra.
Although no criminal complaint has been lodged, the HSR Layout police say they will do so if anybody comes forward. “Else, we’ll take suo motu notice and book a case,” Inspector N T Srinivas Reddy said.

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