The atmosphere at the Amrita School of Engineering in Bengaluru’s Kasavanahalli near Bellandur was grim on Monday afternoon following the death of Harsha, a 4th year engineering student.
Angry students had assembled in protest, alleging that Harsha had killed himself on campus due to harassment by college authorities and they demanded justice for their friend. Some were seated on the cemented path leading to two buildings and some were standing surrounding the same area. There was a large number of police personnel inside the campus as well, even though the situation remained largely peaceful.
The college is one of the many institutions run by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham under Kerala-based spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. The college in Bengaluru has 2,000-plus students primarily in BTech and around 200 from MTech and MBA courses.
The protesting students alleged that college authorities rusticated Harsha for no fault of his, after days of harassment.
They alleged that the college’s disciplinary action committee wanted Harsha to 'confess' over his involvement in an incident of vandalism that took place in the college around the end of last month. This despite another student who had come forward to confess, apparently telling the committee that Harsha was in no way involved in the incident.
The students said that so far the college authorities had already rusticated 15 students across batches and another 45 were suspended for the same act.
The incident of vandalism included breaking of windscreens and windows of six college-owned buses. A group of students had allegedly carried out the act after repeated complaints on the lack of decent food and sufficient water at the hostel were not acknowledged.
According to multiple students TNM spoke to, Harsha had a reputation of being a harmless, shy person and was a good student.
One of Harsha’s batchmate and a student of the Electronics and Communication Engineering stream said, “We knew him to be a shy guy who would not even talk to people that much. There was no way that he was involved in that incident. Even one of the students who confessed his involvement clearly said that Harsha was not part of it. But still the college administration continued to harass him.”
Another student said, “He was a good student and had already got his placement. What we hear is that the college authorities had said that he would also lose his job offer due to this incident.”
Some students alleged that the college authorities had initially tried to pass off the death as an accident and had even tried to remove the CCTV footage.
DCP Isha Pant confirmed that Parappana Agrahara police had registered a case of abetment of Section 306 (abetment of suicide) and Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information) against the college.
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State health department suicide helpline number - 104
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Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
Life Suicide Prevention Helpline No.78930-78930
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Helpline 2: 9127848584