Students Under Increasing Pressure: Suicide and Violence in Chennai College
Ragamoulika hangs herself
NEW DELHI: A young student, clearly humiliated and under pressure, kills herself. The students turn violent in protest. The University is closed. Seems like a pattern, almost serial.
Young Ragamoulika, a first year BSc Computer science student at the Sathabama University in Campus hung herself after she was ‘humiliated’ when reportedly caught cheating in an examination. From Andhra Pradesh, Ragamoulika, was made to leave the hall and according to the students she was unable to bear the humiliation she was subjected to and killed herself. She was found hanging in her hostel room.
Reports suggest that she was not allowed to sit for the examinations as she was caught copying in an internal exam. She was sent out of the examination hall, while writing her engineering chemistry paper. She reported send a message to her twin brother Rakesh who is a student in the same university, said she had made a mistake and asked for forgiveness.
Soon after, last night the campus erupted in violence with the students resorting to arson. This carried on for hours before it subsided, with the police being brought into the campus. The College has closed for a month, with the students setting fire to university property, burning mattresses and smashing window panes in protest.
This is the second suicide in a Chennai college, with 26 year old Prakash taking his life in a government arts college in the city in October.The students demonstrated at the time, maintaining that Prakash was unable to cope with the pressure being exerted on him by sections of the faculty, and in particular the head of department.
The most controversial suicide was of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit student in Hyderabad Central University as he and five scholars were humiliated and harassed by the management, evicted from their hostels, and were sleeping out in the open. Vemula was dependent on the meagre scholarship that was stopped. He was a Dalit scholar with the central Modi government intervening directly to support the faculty and the Vice Chancellor against the agitating students.
The increasing trend of suicides---an IIT Kharagpur student also from Andhra Pradesh killed himself in May this year---is reflective of workload but also of insensitive campuses where the Vice Chancellors and faculty are using the whip to ‘tame’ students and imposing increasingly stringent rules for the young adults.
Often punitive measures as in the case now, and others like Vemula and JNU students facing a hostile administration, is to deny scholarships, deny entrance to examinations, eviction from hostel rooms, with proctorial enquiries and even FIRs being slapped on the young people. Vice Chancellors are discouraged to reach out, to listen to the students, who are being treated increasingly as the ‘other’, with the effort now of governments, education departments and the university managements to curtail freedoms and bring the students into the line of conformity.
The pressure and the intolerance is creating stresses, clearly untapped by the administrations and the governments, with suicide ending lives even before these had begun.