Story of a slain former Vice-Chancellor

Dr Ayyappa Dore, former vice chancellor of Alliance University, lived a middle-class life, dropping off his three children to the school van, and occasionally making lemon rice for them. His wife Pavana, also a former vice-chancellor, says he worshiped l
Last Updated 22 October 2019, 14:54 IST
Ayappa Dore
Ayappa Dore
When Metrolife visited HMT Ground in R T Nagar, where the crime took place, policemen were talking to eyewitnesses and gathering evidence.
When Metrolife visited HMT Ground in R T Nagar, where the crime took place, policemen were talking to eyewitnesses and gathering evidence.
A moving thank-you poem Ayyappa’s son wrote to him.
A moving thank-you poem Ayyappa’s son wrote to him.

Academic Dr Ayyappa Dore was murdered last week, and the case soon took a sensational turn with the arrest of Sudhir Angur, his erstwhile employer and founder of Alliance University.

On October 15, Ayyappa’s body was sprawled in a pool of blood on HMT Grounds. Within hours, police said they had cracked the case with the arrest of university founder Sudhir Angur, employee Suraj Singh and five others.

Metrolife visited Ayyappa’s house on Saturday, and found policemen at the crime spot, talking to eyewitnesses. People in the area are in shock, with some senior citizens saying they have not stirred out since they heard of the stabbing. Those visiting the bakeries and tea stalls in the neighbourhood are still talking of how Ayyappa’s life came to an end.

Ayyappa’s house, a two-storey building, stands bang opposite HMT Grounds, where his body was found. Dr Pavana Dibbur, Ayyappa’s wife, shared the chilling details of the past week.

“That night, Ayyappa went on his usual post-dinner walk. I had a headache and went to bed early. I woke up in the morning and didn’t find him in bed. I assumed he had gone out for a walk again. I opened the front door at 5.30 am and saw him lying there, in front of our house,” she says.

‘A Saraswati devotee’

Pavana describes Ayyappa as “a firm believer in education who respected those who wanted to study.” In her estimation, he was more a devotee of Saraswati, goddess of learning, than Lakshmi, goddess of wealth. He believed education should not be commercialised, Pavana says.

Police say his murder is the result of a vicious struggle for the control of Alliance University. Madhukar Angur and Sudhir Angur, the two brothers who founded it, have been at loggerheads for close to a decade.

Founded in 2010, the university is located on a huge 40-acre campus in Anekal, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, and gets students from all over India. Since 2016, classes have frequently been disrupted, and the management has swung between the two factions.

Ayyappa was at the centre of much of this action. He drove his own car and didn’t smoke or drink. “He believed in doing good for others and always said his goodness would protect him. I wonder why it didn’t,” Pavana says.

He was confident he would be able to handle all problems that came his way. “That’s also why he shared very little with us. He didn’t believe in bringing his work tensions home. He always told me not to worry and to take care of the children,” says Pavana, battling her tears.

Kids loved his lemon rice

Pavana and Ayyappa have three children, and the family loved the chitranna (lemon rice) he sometimes cooked.

“He didn’t cook too much, but his lemon rice was a favourite in our household. He would also make time to drop the children to the van. Even if he was unwell, he would wake up and get them to the van on time,” said Pavana.

Ayyappa never pressured their children to score high marks. “He would only ask them to compete with themselves and refrain from comparisons with others,” she says.

Ayyappa’s mother-in-law, who sat by as Metrolife spoke to Pavana, says he had helped countless people. “He would help people financially and otherwise without a second thought,” she says.

‘Don’t delay justice’

Pavana, who did an LLM and then earned a doctorate, says she has never stepped into a police station.

“We have lost him and even if you nab the killers we won’t get him back. Cases like this usually drag on. I hope we get some justice without delay,” she says.

Tense on campus

Rukmini (name changed), once a senior employee of Alliance University, resigned in 2016, unable to take the stress.

“Anybody who got close to either of the brothers was targeted. This created tension and I had reached a point when I had to take anti-depressant tablets to calm down. My family advised me to resign before my health got worse,” she says.

Raghunandan (named changed), who worked in the administration division till 2016, recalls how tough-looking men often entered the campus armed with deadly weapons. “The gates would be shut and the staff asked not to leave the campus until they got an official email,” he says. Salaries were delayed, sometimes for up to three months. “We always feared for our lives,” says Raghunandan.

VC for 3 years

Dr Ayyappa Dore served as vice-chancellor of Alliance University from 2010-13 and his wife Pavana took over and served between 2013-17. “He was instrumental in helping Alliance grow from a small college into a university,” says Pavana. A BCom graduate, he got a PhD from Bangalore University in 2005. He also held a master’s in library science.

‘Supari murders easy to crack’

A top police officer investigating the Ayyappa murder case says those hiring contract killers forget that the law will soon catch them. “Almost 95 per cent of all supari cases are detected,” he told Metrolife. The moment one man is caught, he reveals who his masters are, and turns approver. The one to gives supari is more culpable than the one who takes it, he explains. The policeman, with extensive experience across Karnataka, says supari murders usually fall in one of three categories: money disputes, property disputes and extra-marital affairs.

Promised Rs 1 cr. Paid Rs 20,000

Suraj Singh, the main accused in the murder case, would collect money and conduct ‘pujas,’ even steering a chariot on the streets for Dasara.

“Those who join hands with people like Suraj are small-timers who think they are going to get money. In reality, people contract the killings don’t pay the full amount. In the case of Ayyappa, the killers were promised Rs 1 crore but given only Rs 20,000,” he says. Supari killings are easy to crack. The moment one suspect is arrested, he starts singing about all the others involved, says the top policeman.

Who was Dr Ayyappa Dore?

Hailing from Sarur in Vijayapura (Bijapur) district, he was one of seven siblings, and hails from a family of academics. Pavana and Ayappa were married for 17 years and have three children. He was stabbed to death last Tuesday.

(Published 22 October 2019, 14:50 IST)

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