PES University: Four student deaths in 10 months. Here’s what has happened so far

The university first made headlines last year in July, when 19-year-old Aditya Prabhu, a BTech student of PES University, died by suicide after allegedly facing mental harassment by college authorities
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On Tuesday, May 14, the PES University in Bengaluru once again witnessed a student death on its campus when a 21-year-old BTech student died after jumping off a building on campus.

As news reports suggest, the third-year BTech Computer Science student at PES Universty’s Electonic City campus allegedly died by suicide after he was denied entry into the examination hall for being late.

Reportedly, the student was supposed to write his first paper for the sixth-semester examination on Tuesday. It is also alleged that Rahul was told that he would not be allowed to participate in campus placements.

However, this is not the first time the private university in Bengaluru has reported such an incident.

In fact, in the last 10 months, PES University has witnessed four student deaths, allegedly by suicide, raising several questions about students’ mental health and well-being on the campus.

The university first made headlines last year in July, when 19-year-old Aditya Prabhu, a BTech student of PES University, died by suicide after allegedly being subjected to verbal harassment for carrying a mobile phone into the examination hall by the college authorities.

Since then, there have been protests advocating for students’ well-being on campuses and notices have been issued by higher authorities to look into several allegations made by the deceased's parents and friends.

Let us look into what has happened at Bengaluru’s renowned private university in the last ten months:

July 17, 2023: Aditya Prabhu, a 19-year-old student of PES University in Bengaluru, died by suicide after jumping from the eighth floor of a building on the college campus. Reportedly, the college had accused Aditya of using unfair means during the examination.

July 20, 2023: Aditya’s family created an Instagram account named ‘justiceforadityaprabhu’, and posted their narrative, accusing the college authorities of mental harassment and abetment of suicide. A case was also registered with the Girinagar police station in Bengaluru.

July 23, 2023: A protest was held in solidarity with Aditya’s family at Freedom Park, Bengaluru. The protestors urged PES University to publicly name and suspend the faculty members involved in the incident leading to Aditya's death.

Moreover, they called for the formation of an impartial committee by the Education Ministry to thoroughly investigate PES University's role in Aditya’s demise.

An online petition was also started simultaneously demanding the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other education authorities implement policy-level changes that prioritise students' mental well-being during stressful situations

October 18, 2023: After over 90 days since the suicide at PES University, a chargesheet was filed by the police against three faculty members at the university in an abetment to suicide case.

October 28, 2023: Another case of student suicide was reported at PES University. Surya M Achar, a third-year student pursuing BTech Computer Science from the Electronic City branch of PES University ended his life by jumping from the college building.

November 16, 2023: All India Student's Union (AISU) wrote to the University Grants Commission (UGC) highlighting the "toxic classroom environment, harsh words, and cruel behaviour exhibited by certain faculties and the management" of the PES University. This letter was sent after no action was taken against the professors mentioned in the charge sheet related to the suicide of Aditya Prabhu.

Meanwhile, an expert committee which was set up by the Karnataka government following the suicides at PES University submitted its recommendations including an ‘open-book examination’ and replacing marks with grades to prevent student suicides due to academic pressure

December 12, 2023: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sent a notice to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the District Magistrate (DM) of Bengaluru, mandating an inquiry into the suicides, demanding that a report be submitted within seven days

December 27, 2023: Based on the complaint filed by AISU, the UGC issued a letter to the Chief Secretary of the Karnataka Government over the concerns regarding mental and institutional harassment at Bengaluru’s renowned PES University.

NCPCR also sent another reminder notice to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the District Magistrate (DM) of Bengaluru to look into the matter

January 16, 2024: Third reminder notice sent to the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the District Magistrate (DM) of Bengaluru by the NCPCR. The investigation report is yet to be submitted to the commission even after over a month since the initial notice was sent.

January 30, 2024: The private university witnessed the third case of student suicide in six months. A 19-year-old BBA student at PES University’s Electronic City, Vignesh K, campus died by suicide.

February 1, 2024: The student group All Indian Student's Union (AISU) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Droupadi Murmu and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah concerning the alarming rise in student suicides at the university

February 20, 2024: Bengaluru’s Deputy Commissioner (DC) and District Magistrate (DM), Dayananda KA, issued a notice to the Bengaluru Police Commissioner, demanding an investigation into the student suicides at PES University on the basis of a complaint filed by the NCPCR.

April 1, 2024: The UGC wrote to the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, regarding the alarming incidents at the PES University. The letter, signed by Dr Shakeel Ahmad, Joint Secretary, UGC, stated, "Looking into the seriousness of the issue, it is once again requested to take immediate action to stop such incidents and investigate the suicide by the students of PES University."

May 14, 2024: Rahul, a 21-year-old BTech student died by suicide at PES University’s Electronic City campus, making it the fourth case of student death recorded at the university.

An investigation is underway to determine the reason behind his death. However, reports claim that the third-year BTech Computer Science student allegedly took the extreme step after he was denied entry into the examination hall for being late.

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