PES University student suicides: Protestors demand reforms in Karnataka Education Act, 1983

The protest was led by activist and social worker Dushyant Dubey, who is also known as St Broseph, and members of his organisation St Broseph’s Army
Protest was led by activist and social worker Dushyant Dubey
Protest was led by activist and social worker Dushyant Dubey(Image: EdexLive Desk)

Following the news of yet another student death by suicide at Bengaluru’s renowned PES University, several citizens and activists led a protest at Freedom Park in the city, today, May 18, condemning the recurring cases of suicides and pressing for urgent reforms in the Karnataka Education Act, 1983.

The protest was led by activist and social worker Dushyant Dubey, who is also known as St Broseph, and members of his organisation St Broseph’s Army.

The protestors jointly called for the government to conduct an official investigation into PES University and also called upon Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, and Central Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to determine the cause and patterns behind these four student suicides.

Addressing the protestors on Saturday, Dushyant Dubey said, “Nine months ago, we stood at this very spot. At that time, there had been just one death — the suicide of Aditya Prabhu. That was when we realised that something is very wrong at the university and something needs to be changed.”

“The slogans raised that day were for ‘No More Student Deaths’, and to ‘Investigate PES University’, but here we are today, when three more students have lost their lives on the same campus. We have been sending memorandums to authorities. However, no action was taken against PES University to date and the charge-sheeted professors of PES University in Aditya Prabhu’s suicide were not even suspended,” Dubey added further.

Demands

The protestors urged authorities for urgent intervention and to investigate the private university in order to determine the cause behind recurring student suicides.

“First it was Aditya, then it was Surya… How many student lives do we lose before realising the gravity of the situation? UGC (University Grant Commission) has urged an investigation into the matter, but why hasn’t it been done? In Aditya’s case, three professors were chargesheeted under section 306, which is abetment to suicide. These professors are still at the university, interacting with students on a daily basis,” Dubey stressed.

The protesters further implored Karnataka Higher Education Minister MC Sudhakar to push for amendments to the Karnataka Education Act, 1983 for criminalising the harassment of students by higher education authorities, similar to ragging.

Background

On Tuesday, May 14, 21-year-old, Rahul Carasala, a BTech student at PES University’s Electronic City campus, ended his own life by jumping from the fifth floor of one of the college buildings.

He allegedly took the extreme step after being restricted from writing an exam on account of being late and he was told that he wouldn’t be a part of the college placements as a result.

The incident follows three other student suicides at PES University in the last 10 months — the first one being the death of Aditya Prabhu in July 2023, a 19-year-old student who ended his life after allegedly being mentally harassed by university authorities.

Aditya’s Prabhu hit headlines after his parents took to social media accounts sharing their narrative and accusing the PES University management of abetment of suicide.

While a police investigation was conducted and three faculty members were chargesheeted in connection to the incident, no action has been taken against the accused so far by the university.

Asha Prabhu, Aditya Prabhu’s mother, who was also present at the protest site, spoke to EdexLive, "We lost our son nine months ago after he faced mental harassment at the hands of his professors. However, the accused are yet to be suspended by the university. There have been three more deaths at the 'suicide campus'. UGC has also written to the authorities regarding this. Why has there been no action taken against the university?”

Aditya’s death was followed by two more suicides within a short span.

Surya M Achar, a third-year BTech student, took his life on December 27, 2023, followed by Vignesh K, a BBA student who ended his life on January 30, 2024, at PES University’s Electronic City campus.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had mandated an inquiry into the suicides and the UGC had also written to the state government regarding the alarming incidents at the PES University.

However, no action has yet been taken by the college management to look into the recurring student suicides on campus.

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