Student jumps to death after being expelled over strike

Sree Harsha

A final-year engineering student jumped to his death from the seventh floor of Amrita School of Engineering in Bengaluru on Monday, after he was allegedly harassed and expelled by the management for protesting against water shortage in the hostel.

Sree Harsha, a native of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, was studying engineering in electronics and communications in the college located at Kasavanahalli in Bengaluru. The college is part of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham founded by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi. 

Isha Panth, Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-east), said Harsha, who resided on campus, had secured a campus placement and was set to begin his professional career after the completion of the course in the next six months.

But all that changed with a protest.

“Hundreds of students had staged protest against the shortage of water in the hostel,” said Isha.

Following the protest, the management had identified a few of them, including Sree Harsha, and issued a termination letter. Isha said Harsha came to the college with his father on Monday, requesting the disciplinary committee to reconsider the decision.

“As the committee refused to withdraw the termination letter, he jumped from the college building. The college management says the letter was issued as a disciplinary action but this incident amounts to abetment to suicide. Action will be initiated against the management,” said Isha.

She said the college management has also been booked for allegedly destroying evidence as bloodstains had been wiped off before police arrived on the spot.

After meeting with the committee, Harsha told his father to wait for him and went to the seventh floor from where he jumped to his death. The incident happened around 12.15 noon.

The trigger

A fellow student residing in the hostel told DH that as many as 1,600 students in the hostel started experiencing water shortage last month. On September 23, they went to Bhaskar, the warden, and urged him to fix the problem but he allegedly rejected their request in a rude manner.

The next day, around 300 students staged a protest in front of the administrative block. The director of the college Dhanraj Swami and Associate Dean and Head Rakesh S G came to enquire but failed to convince them.

“We pay nearly Rs 3 lakh for hostel accommodation. We only demanded water supply but the management refused and said they cannot do anything,” students said.

Angry students threw stones at the college buses and some broke a CCTV camera on the college campus. The college had declared 20 days holiday after the incident.

Rakesh S G, Associate Dean of Amritha School of Engineering, rejected allegations that the management harassed or rusticated the student.

“During the protest, students had broken glass panes and windshields of 16 buses. They even brought petrol and other fuel to the campus,” he alleged.

“Being an education institution we cannot let students take law into their hands. The management scrutinised the CCTV footage and shortlisted the students who were involved in vandalism and constituted an enquiry committee. The students appeared before the committee on Monday but no punishment or suspension was given to him,” he said.

Hundreds of students held a silent protest after the suicide on Monday afternoon. The management has revoked the suspension of five other students, who were suspended for one year duration.

Prof A S Deshpande, Registrar (Administration), VTU, said colleges have a provision to take disciplinary action against students.

“If it is an examination procedure, the university will intervene. The administrative issue rests with the institution. As future of students is threatened, we will get report on the incident and take a humanitarian decision,” he said.

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