Six arrested over death of veterinary varsity student

(Top from left) Rehan Vinoy, SD Akash, RD Sreehari; (Bottom from left) S Abhishek, Donce Day, Bilgates Joshua. Photo: Special Arrangement

Wayanad: Police arrested six students of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) at Pookkode over the ragging-related death of Sidharth J S (20), a second-year degree student of the campus, on Wednesday. Sidharth was found hanging in the toilet of the college hostel on February 18.

Those arrested are Rehan Vinoy (20), of Thiruvananthapuram; S D Akash (22), of Konchiravila, Manacaud, Thiruvananthapuram; R D Sreehari (23), of Nanniyode in Palakkad; S Abhishek (23), of Ramakkalmedu in Idukki; Donce Day (23), of Muthalakkodam in Thodupuzha; and Bilgates Joshua (23), of Chungam in Sulthan Bathery, Wayanad. All accused were among the eight students taken into custody by the investigation team headed by Kalpetta DySP T N Sajeevan.

A student of Bachelor in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Sidharth was brutally tortured before his death, according to the postmortem report. Police had earlier registered a case against 12 persons in connection with the suicide of the youth, apart from the six arrested today. The total number of accused now is 18, and the number may go up, according to police.

The sections charged against the accused include IPC 306 (abetment of suicide), section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt to any person), section 324 (hurting with dangerous weapons), section 341 (wrongful restraint of any person) and section 342 (wrongful confinement), besides sections 3 and 4 of the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act, 1998. Police said the remaining 12 against whom a case has been registered would be arrested soon.

Earlier today, Sidharth's father T Jayaprakash accused the CPM of protecting the accused as all of them are party workers or SFI leaders. Talking to Onmanorama over the phone, Jayaprakash said that there is sufficient information to believe that Sidharth was tortured brutally for many days, beaten to death and hanged in the toilet.

"He (Sidharth) was even denied food for many days,” he said. “Many students who visited us and those who spoke to us over the phone told us that he was tortured by some senior students and some of his classmates,” he said.

Jayaprakash said that he had passed on the names of the suspected students to the investigating team. “I am sure that my son would not have ended his life. He faced no financial constraints and he had also enjoyed his studies. Only recently he told me that he wanted to pursue higher studies in wildlife after his BVSc. How could I believe that a person like him could end his life,” Jayaprakash asked.

The case
Sources say the trigger for the alleged torture was Sidhardh's dance with the girls from the senior class on Valentine's Day. There was some quarrel and a few students beat him up. According to sources, a senior humiliated him publically and was made strip after a kangaroo court found him guilty.

Though Vythiri police initially registered a case for unnatural death, a case under the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act 1998 was registered against 12 students including the unit secretary of the CPM-affiliated SFI and KVASU students’ union president. The academic dean of the varsity suspended the students on Friday based on the recommendation of the Anti-Ragging Squad of the UGC.

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