Published: 12th April 2017
Don't like our food? We'll tell your parents you're on drugs: Did Mavelikkara Engineering College's power play result in student's suicide attempt?
A suicide attempt is bad news; especially if it's because the Prinicipal ticked him off. But if what unionists are alleging is true it could be because of a whole other level of intimidation
A 20-year-old engineering student from Mavelikkara attempted to kill himself — a strange ending to a story that began with the youth protesting against the bad food in his college canteen. Allegedly, after Arsh Raj and several other students from the Sri Vellappally Natesan College of Engineering protested against the quality of food being served in the canteen, college authorities told his parents to get him to "toe the line" and told them that he was "on drugs".
This catalysed a chain reaction that resulted in him trying to kill himself — thankfully, he was found and rushed to a hospital in the wee hours of Monday and is now stable. The state has been witnessing protests by various political parties and student unions like SFI, DYFI KSU and ABVP since then. After news of the suicide attempt got out, they marched to the college and broke a few window panes, leading to the closure of the college till Monday next.
Food fetish: Students protesting after the attempted suicide brought on by a canteen concern
They wanted to step out for a bite
According to Sagar C, a third-year Mechanical Engineering student and a Secretary of the SFI Unit of the college, they had been asking the principal to let them leave the campus to get some decent food, "We come in at 8.30 am and can't leave till 4 pm. We told the principal that the food was bad and that we wanted to go out and eat. Initially, he was all right with it," he explained. However, the students were shocked when they started getting frantic calls from their parents the next day, "The principal made teachers call the parents of five students, including Arsh's, saying that they are using drugs and that they had been asked to vacate the hostel. He had no place to go," he added.
The Vallikunam Police instead reportedly claimed that Arsh had complained about the food on Saturday, following which the Principal had asked him to vacate the hostel, following which the upset young man attempted to kill himself.
Not-so-last words: Arsh's purported suicide notes found in his room
When Edex Live got in touch with the college, the Principal was unavailable, but we were redirected to a senior faculty member. He said that the whole thing was being blown out of proportion and chastised the students for politicising what he thought was a small issue, "I honestly don't think the suicide attempt has actually happened. It is said that it happened at 2 am. He had cut his finger tip and lost a few drops of blood. It is said that he tried hanging from the fan, as they found a lungi tied to it," he said.
Teachers say it's blown out of proportion
He also said the college has called for a PTA meeting on Thursday in a bid to calm the waters. He went on to add, "For the past few months, there are unwanted pressures from various sources. That gave birth to the protest here. The Nehru college case escalated it," hinting at the hand of political unions in making this issue larger than it was. Sagar, on the other hand, said that the political parties got involved in the matter only after the suicide attempt. "People got to know about the suicide attempt at around 5 in the morning. The college, of course, thinks it is fabricated maybe because of their own political connections," he retorted.
Arsh Raj is believed to be recuperating at his house in Thiruvananthapuram. He was unavailable for comment.