Staff members at the Amrita School of Engineering allegedly wiped bloodstains and deleted eyewitness footage shortly after a student committed suicide on Monday.
Moments after Sree Harsha, a final-year student of electronics and communication engineering, jumped from the seventh floor of the college building, his peers dashed to the spot. While some attended to the student as he gasped for breath, others started taking photos and shooting videos on their mobile phones.
Members of the college staff also rushed to the spot and allegedly wiped bloodstains from the spot where Harsha had fallen. They even warned the students against shooting videos and snatched their phones. The images and videos of the incident were deleted from the phones, several students alleged.
The jurisdictional Parappanan Agrahara police have booked the college management for destroying evidence and abetment to suicide. While it's unclear if the student left behind a suicide note, police suspect the letter may as well have been destroyed.
Student suicides aren't new at the college which is run by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, a private deemed-to-be university founded by Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.
In January 2012, Jitendra Sai, a 20-year-old student of electronics and instrumentation engineering, allegedly hanged himself in the hostel room. Around one thousand of his peers later laid a siege to the college, blaming the management. They asked the college to reduce academic pressure and sought strict action against S G Rakesh, the associate director who's responsible for formulating academic rules.
History seemed to be repeating itself on Monday. Harsha's suicide triggered an almost identical student reaction.
The students had protested last month, too, complaining about "bad" food. Those who brought outside food were forced to write apology letters and referred to the disciplinary committee, said a final-year student. "We complained to the management but it never cared to solve the problem. Even the college director, Dhanraj, didn't take action," the student added.
The college allowed outside food only after the police and the media intervened. But as every student started bringing outside food, few ate in the mess. The college quickly restored the ban, the student said. The annual hostel fee is close to Rs 3 lakh, according to the student.