Wednesday was not just another working day for the students of Jawaharlal Nehru College in Palakkad's Lakkidi.
An 18-year-old law student consumed poison in front of his classmates and teacher, while he was inside the classroom. Arshad Ashraf, a native of Palakkad, is a first-year LLB student. He tried to kill himself, allegedly after being subjected to prolonged harassment by the college.
Arshad has been admitted to a hospital in Ottappalam, where he continues to receive medical treatment.
According to students from the college, prolonged harassment by the college officials drove Arshad to take the extreme step. A third year student of LLB, requesting anonymity, told TNM that the college had been targeting Arshad for the last one month. This, under the impression that he was active in protests against Nehru group of institutions, after first year student Jishnu Pranoy from the Pampady campus was found hanging in January last year.
"In December, a teacher and the Vice Principal accused Arshad of being drunk. But all of us know that he doesn't consume liquor or even smoke. Arshad told them that he hadn't done it and even offered to undergo medical test to prove his innocence. The teachers were then upset at Arshad's response, but they realised he hadn't consumed liquor. A few days later, a teacher and the VP went to their classroom and lectured them on good behaviour, repeatedly pointing and mentioning his name," the third year student said.
When Arshad had had enough, he stood up and told the teacher that they shouldn't target him. This possibly angered the college, the student said.
"The college then suspended him and instead of handing over the letter to him, sent it to his house by post," the student said.
After the college re-opened two days ago, Arshad returned to class on Tuesday. However, he was not only allowed to enter the class; a teacher allegedly maintained that she wouldn't continue the class if Arshad was present.
"He left following that. On Wednesday, he came back again and sat in class and consumed poison while the class was on," another student said.
More allegations against college
The students of the college have alleged that the college officials did not take Arshad to the hospital on time.
A senior student who happened to walk past the corridor while the incident happened said:
"I saw him lying on the floor and the teacher and an office staff were looking at him, assuming that we will take Arshad to the hospital. We pleaded with them to take him in their car, but they refused. We then took a batchmate's car and left."
No police case yet
The students of the college protested in front of the VP's room on Wednesday. Despite allegations that continued harassment from college officials drove him to suicide, the police have not yet registered a case against the college.
Ottappalam Sub-Inspector told TNM that Arshad had refused to give them a statement, citing that he did not believe in police.
"Without recording his statement, we cannot do anything. We will go back to the hospital again tomorrow," he said.
On Tuesday, Arshad posted an update on Facebook, along with a photograph of Jishnu Pranoy.
"I am your reincarnation. The only way people like us can protest against the injustice happening here, is by killing ourselves," he wrote.