Amrita student suicide: 10 staff members booked for allegedly tampering with crime scene

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‘Amrita college is responsible for my son’s death’: Sri Harsha’s father speaks out

Three days after 4th year engineering student Sri Harsha killed himself at the Amrita School of Engineering's campus in Bengaluru, the police have not made any arrests in connection with the case. According to Parappana Agrahara Police Inspector Nandeesh, who is investigating Harsha’s suicide, the student’s father has accused the college Principal and nine other lecturers of harassing his son.

Speaking to TNM, Inspector Nandeesh said, “No arrests have been made yet as the case is under investigation. We will make the arrests soon,” he said.

According to the FIR, a copy of which is with TNM, Principal of Amrita School of Engineering, Choodasandra – Dhanaraj Swamy, Rakesh SG lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Bhaskar BL from the Chemistry Department, Ravi Kumar from the Mechanical Engineering Department, Ramesh TK from the ECE Department, Nipun Kumar and Amudha J from the CSE Department, Ventatesh B from the Math Department, Nagaraja SR the HOD of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Murty NS the HOD of ECE Department have been included as accused in the case.

The 10 accused have been booked under section 201 (tampering with evidence) and 306 (abetment to suicide). Inspector Nandeesh also said that the evidence was tampered with as the blood stains at the crime scene were wiped clean before the police could arrive on the spot.

Lecturer Rakesh SG was booked for abetment of suicide in another case in 2012. This is when a 2nd semester engineering student named Jitendra Sai killed himself inside his hostel room. His classmates had found Jitendra in his room and had tried to rescue them when the then hostel wardens allegedly stopped the students from helping Jitendra claiming it was a medico-legal case. At the time too, hundreds of students had protested and accused SG Rakesh, who was the Associate Dean of the college at the time, of formulating academic rules that had forced Jitendra to take the drastic step.

According to the FIR, Sri Harsha’s father Vijaya Bhaskar tried to meet the college authorities after he received a call from the institute about his son's suspension. On October 21, while Harsha appeared before the disciplinary committee, his father was not allowed inside the campus. And while his father was waiting outside the gate, Harsha killed himself.

The FIR states that Vijaya Bhaskar was contacted by officials of Amrita School of Engineering at around 12 pm stating that his son had been rushed to Columbia Asia Hospital due to ill health. However, Harsha had been declared dead by hospital authorities by the time his father arrived.

“On October 21, he (Vijaya Bhaskar) went to the college from the hospital to talk to the college administrators. He was later told that his son was admitted at Columbia Asia hospital. He has alleged that several staff members of the college were cleaning up the spot where his son had fallen. The accusation is that the college harassed his son, which led him to end his life,” the FIR states.  

Speaking to TNM, Deputy Commissioner of Police Isha Pant said that the investigators are looking into the allegations made by the students that the college harassed Sri Harsha on multiple occasions. “It has come to our knowledge that the committee that was investigating the vandalism incident threatened to inform the companies that had offered Harsha a job,” she added.

Hundreds of students of Amrita School of Engineering began a silent protest demanding justice for Harsha soon after his death. The students alleged that in September 2019 those living in the hostel had complained to the management of water shortage. They had also complained about the bad quality of food in the mess.

Angered by the no adequate response to their demands, several students had allegedly vandalized eight buses, a hostel window and a CCTV camera at the hostel. The next two weeks saw several students get suspension notices and Sri Harsha was one among them. Harsha was suspended for a year. He and other students allegedly went to negotiate with the disciplinary committee on October 21. Harsha had been in the placement process for a job and was confident of securing one, according to his family.

Meanwhile, Amrita School of Engineering, on Wednesday evening, responded to the allegations stating that the college is extending full co-operation to the investigating authorities. "We are fully open to investigation and are cooperating with the investigating authorities in the incident. On Thursday, the college management will have a meeting with the students as well as the police. On Friday, a formal press meet will be held by the college regarding the incident and clarify certain false statements made by the media. Allegations of hiding CCTV footage of the said student’s death are false and we have handed over all evidence to the police following the incident,” the college said. 

Read: Student death in Bengaluru: Students demand Amritanandamayi should address their issues

Editor's note: An earlier version of the story had quoted students saying that Harsha had received job offers. However, his family has since clarified he was confident of getting placed but had not received a formal offer.