Aswin and Ajmal, 20-year-old students of the Kottayam School of Medical Education are still struggling to recover from the shock and horror of seeing their college mate Sree Lekshmi being burnt alive.
They were two students who witnessed Adarsh, a 26-year-old former student, immolating Lekshmi and himself on Wednesday, after she rejected his advances.
What is remarkable is that amidst the many stories of bystanders being apathetic and simply watching events unfold before them, Aswin and Ajmal tried to prevent the horrible event, and then sought to save the lives of Lekshmi and Adarsh.
Aswin and Ajmal were in the college library when they heard Lekshmi screaming in fear from a nearby class room.
â€śAbout 50 people were there in the library and we rushed out to the classroom when we heard a girl crying out. Ajmal and I saw Lekshmirushing into the library crying, and behind her we saw Adarsh. At first, we thought he was coming to hit her, since we didnâ€™t know that they were both doused in petrol. When he took the lighter out from his pocket, we realised what his intention was,â€ť narrated Ashwin to The News Minute.
Both the men tried their best to block Adarsh, to pull him away from Lekshmi and give her a chance to get away. â€śWe held him tightly, preventing him from starting a fire. We were shouting at Lekshmi to run, but Adarsh hugged her tightly and didnâ€™t let her move. Since we grabbed him there was petrol was all over our hands also. Suddenly, he somehow mananged to start a fire, and it spread all of a sudden,â€ť Ajmal told TNM.
Unable to hold on since their hands were also seriously burnt, Ajmal and Ashwin ran to get them some help. â€śWe both ran to toilet and brought buckets of water and emptied them on both people, but they were partially burnt already. Lekshmi ran outside library while Adarsh fell there itself. Within sometime they were taken to hospital,â€ť Ashwin said.
Ashwin says that though both he and Ajmal were in a panic, they tried their best to save them.
â€śWe have never faced such a situation, we panicked. We tried to act quickly. But it is sad that we couldnâ€™t stop it,â€ť Ashwin says.
Ashwin also recalls that Lekshmi who was a year senior to him, was very friendly in nature. â€śShe was a good friend, always talked to us a lot. She was smart and active in the college. We knew each other very well. But I have seen Adarsh only a couple of times when he came to college to write his supplementary exams. I have spoken to him once or twice. I had no clue about their relationship. It was after the incident that I came to know that he had been disturbing her continuously,â€ť Ashwin said.
Ajmal regrets that they were not able to save Lekshmiâ€™s life, and wishes that more people had been around to help her.
â€śSince everyone ran outside hearing Lekshmiâ€™s scream, only we both were inside. If some more people were there, we could have stopped them. Lekshmi and Adarsh came through back door. So, nobody saw them coming,â€ť Ajmal says.