Two days since Harsha, a fourth-year engineering student of the Amrita School of Engineering in Bengaluru’s Kasavanahalli near Bellandur took his life allegedly due to harassment by college authorities, protests in the campus continued.
The students shouted slogans and carried placards in large numbers as police continued to remain on campus on Wednesday, even as the protests have remained peaceful.
Some of the placards read— “It’s not a suicide, it’s a murder”, “We are with you Harsha.”
One third-year B.Tech student said, “We are not stopping our protests till the time our demands are met. We want those responsible for the incident to be punished and do not want the college to interfere in the investigation.”
The protesting students, who are more than 500 in number, are on their third day of protests in the college campus. They say they are not going to stop the protests until all their three demands are met. Their demands are: 1) Those accused should be arrested and produced in court, 2) The college authorities should not influence the investigation, and 3) Amritanandamayi, the chancellor of the University should address the students herself and gain their confidence by coming o the college.
Another student and Harsha’s batchmate said, “We are not moving from here. The college authorities tried telling us they will give a week of holidays for the tragedy. But none of us accepted it even though Diwali holidays are round the corner.”
The college is one of the many institutions run by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, which comes under Kerala-based spiritual leader Amritanandamayi.
The students till now have been told that Amritanandamayi is currently in Switzerland. Even the dean of the institution Sasangan Ramanathan, who operates out of Coimbatore, has said that he can’t reach Bengaluru in the next 10 days.
Irked by the reaction from the administration, the students have decided to continue their protests. They have lost faith in the current administration as they allege that the college had initially tried to pass off the incident as an accident.
TNM has earlier reported how the college’s disciplinary action committee wanted Harsha to 'confess' his involvement in an incident of vandalism. This, despite another student apparently telling the committee that Harsha was in no way involved. According to Harsha's family, he was in the placement process for a job but had not received a formal offer.
Meanwhile, Parappana Agrahara jurisdictional police said that investigation into the incident is ongoing and confirmed that no arrests have been made.
TNM had earlier reported that an FIR has been registered under Section 306 (Abetment of suicide) and Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of the offence, or giving false information) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In a statement, the students on Tuesday also said that the director of the institute Dhanraj Swami, had allegedly ridiculed the student at a formal meeting where he apparently joked that the failure of Chandrayaan-2 and depreciation of the rupee were the reasons behind the college not being able to pay for water tankers.
The students said that so far the college authorities had already rusticated 15 students across batches and another 45 were suspended over the incident of vandalism. The students have alleged that all of them were punished arbitrarily without any shred of evidence.
The college, 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.
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.