CHENNAI, India—Alleging harassment by the Principal of his institute, a 21-year-old marine engineering student from Punjab hung himself to death using his turban at the hostel room of the Academy of Maritime Education and Training (AMET) University at Kanathur, East Coast Road, on Friday night.
The victim, J.T. Singh, left behind a suicide note in which he had expressed unhappiness over the punishment meted out to him by the college management as the reason behind his suicide, senior police officers said.
Following the incident, protests broke out inside the university campus on Saturday evening after thousands of irate students gathered on the parade ground condemning principal A.Venugopal.
“We initially went on a candle light march from the university to Mayajaal condemning the principal, but the march turned violent with a few of them pelting stones at the university building and gates,” a student there said.
College management later pacified the students holding talks with them within the campus. Police protection was beefed up outside the university gates following Saturday night’s events. The victim, J.T.Singh, took the extreme step allegedly after a conversation with the principal, who is said to have humiliated him.
A student requesting anonymity said, “The victim had already completed his BE course and was asked to repeat his semester as a punishment for his alleged misbehaviour during his senior batch’s Passing out Parade.”
The student was also further threatened by the principal that his placement with the shipping company would also be terminated after which he took the extreme step. “He was supposed to attend Medical tests for the shipping company on Saturday. However, he took the step before it,” a friend of the deceased told DC.
J.T. Singh’s body was moved to the Government Royapettah Hospital for post mortem. Kanathur Police registered a case and are investigating.
Following death of Marine engineering student J.T. Singh, thousands of students of AMET University took to the streets in a prayer march from the university gates to Mayajaal around 7 pm and sat on a protest inside the gates. “Our demand is that the principal be immediately sacked,” a student said.
University vice chancellor, Col. Dr G. Thiruvasagam along with other administrators held talks with the students and promised them that the principal’s services have been terminated. “We wanted the termination in writing. The VC informed us that the termination order will be the first thing on the notice board on Monday morning,” another student said.Repeated efforts by this newspaper to reach the Vice Chancellor proved futile.
What led to his suicide? Remembered by his friends as a friendly person, J.T. Singh was academically good and was also the Cadet Captain for his squad until his third year. Issues had cropped up when he was caught by one of his seniors for ‘indiscipline’ after which he was suspended.
During the passing out parade celebrations of his senior batch, Singh had reportedly manhandled the senior who had punished him which led to his second suspension.
This time, he was ‘grounded’ by the principal along with nine other batch mates and cadet J.T.Singh was debarred for a semester. “We understand that discipline is important in merchant navy curriculum, but the principal’s behaviour reeks of vengeance and partisan behaviour,” a student said accusing Prof A. Venugopal of ‘ridiculous’ behaviour.
When DC contacted Kanathur inspector P. Asokan in connection with the suicide, he brushed aside the whole incident saying that the student committed suicide due to a failed relationship. This far-fetched claim was made even after senior officers confirmed that the student had left behind a suicide note in which he had mentioned his unhappiness over the punishment meted out to him.
Without specifically naming anyone, he had written, “Let these things not happen to anyone else.” The victim’s parents have not yet lodged a complaint with the police.