Kerala student Jishnu Pranoy’s death invokes controversy

The quote by Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara on Jishnu Pranoy’s Facebook page reads, “Whenever death may surprise us, let it be welcome if our battle cry has reached even one receptive ear and another hand reaches out to take up our arms”

After 6 days, the Kerala Education Minister C Raveendranath visited the family of a first year student of the Nehru Engineering College who allegedly committed suicide last Friday. His suicide has triggered protests and assured of stern action. In a related development, engineering colleges attached to the Kerala Self Financing Engineering College Managements Association remained closed today protesting the attack on its headquarters.

Students across Kerala take to the streets demanding justice for the engineering student who committed suicide in his hostel room on Friday. Enraged activists damaged the office building of the Kerala Self Financing Engineering College Management’s Association (KSFECMA) near Maradu. The activists smashed the doors and windows of the association office.

Student protest over Jishnu pranoy death
Students protesting over Jishnu’s death. photo: Metrovaartha

Amidst continuing protests over the alleged suicide of engineering college student Jishnu in the cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, decided to give the financial aid to the family of the 18-year-old youth.

A first year student of the Nehru Engineering College at Pambady near Thrissur, Jishnu was last seen by his hostel-mates around 6 pm. The 18-year-old was definitely in trauma. An hour earlier, he was summoned to the room of vice-principal Sakthivel. No one knows what happened in that room.

The chain of events that drove the teenager to death started in the afternoon when he was writing an examination. The invigilator, Praveen C.P., accused the student of cheating in the exam. None of them, however, would reveal their identity and for good reason.

The person who they hold partly accountable for their classmate’s death is their own teacher. Praveen, a teacher in the mechanical engineering department, even insulted and abused Jishnu in full view of the students in the hall. Jishnu was taken to the room of the vice-principal around 4:15 pm. That was the last time his classmates saw him.

APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University rules stipulate that the principal is in charge of the examinations in an affiliated college. Then why was Jishnu taken to the office of the vice-principal and why was he held up there for an-hour-and-a-half, his classmates ask.

The death of this engineering college student points to an ominous tendency where the needle of suspicion turns to the teachers. Those colleges and teachers who give assurance to the freshers and their parents/ guardians from the tortures of sadistic senior students are themselves being accused in this case. His classmates alleged that he committed suicide for the humiliation he suffered at the hands of his teacher.

The student’s suicide has raised a storm, with all students joining the protest irrespective of their political affiliation. Jishnu’s parents expected a medal on his neck, not a noose. We can expect that the public outcry would not die down until the perpetrators are brought to justice.

In the aftermath, the college seems to be taking strict actions and has suspended the vice-chancellor and two others but would that be all? On the contrary, it is shameful that Jishnu’s death and the controversy after is not so different from the many in recent times.

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