Governor suspends Veterinary university VC over student's death

Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan and KVASU Vice-Chancellor Saseendranath. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan here on Saturday issued an order suspending the Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) over the death of second-year student Sidharthan at the hostel on February 18. The governor who is the chancellor of the universities in the state also forwarded a letter to the High Court seeking a magisterial probe into the alleged murder and ragging of the student. 

The governor took action against the university VC Prof. (Dr.) M R Saseendranath a day after visiting the family members of Sidharthan. 

Khan, in the order of suspension, said that the report given by the VC -- Prof (Dr) M R Saseendranath -- was "a testimony to the gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Vice Chancellor" during the developments that led to the death of 20-year-old Siddharthan on February 18.

"The indifferent, negligent and callous attitude of the VC towards his duties and responsibilities, especially in the background of this unfortunate incident is revealed from his report dated February 28," the Governor said and ordered a judicial probe into the student's death.

The Governor suggested a probe by a sitting or retired judge of the High Court or Supreme Court and said, "The Registrar General, High Court of Kerala will be requested in due course." 

Addressing the media here on Saturday, Khan pointed out lapses of the university in checking the brutal attack on Sidharthan. 

"This is a pure case of murder. The post-mortem report revealed that his stomach was empty. That means he was not allowed to eat or drink for more than 24 hours. Now, how is it possible that inside a university campus, such a gruesome incident happened and no university authority came to know about it? SFI has converted one hostel in every college as their headquarters and even college staff are afraid to go to there,” said the governor.

He also questioned the university authority for being ignorant of the brutal harassment when the student was tortured for three days consecutively. 

“ The university reported me about the death only yesterday,” he added taking a dig at the university Vice-Chancellor. 

The Raj Bhavan has requested the High Court to order a magisterial probe within three or four days.

Siddharthan, who was a second year Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry student, was found hanging in the bathroom of his hostel on February 18. His parents have claimed that some of his college mates told them that he was beaten to death by some local SFI leaders and activists. The father contended that according to the postmortem report, his son's body had three days' worth of injuries and an empty stomach, which indicated that he was brutally beaten up and not given any food. The police, which had initially registered a case of unnatural death, had later booked 12 students for various offences, including abetment of suicide, wrongful restraint and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, under the IPC and the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act. Later, the number of accused increased to 18.

(With PTI inputs)

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