Horrific assault, silent onlookers: Report details brutal attack on Kerala vet student

The report says that Sidharthan was taken to four different places in and around the hostel and viciously assaulted, and most of the 139 inmates of the hostel witnessed this violence being unleashed upon him.
Sidharthan was found dead in a men's hostel washroom at the Pookode College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences on February 18
Sidharthan was found dead in a men's hostel washroom at the Pookode College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences on February 18

Tw: Descriptions of violence and abuse

An interim report by the anti-ragging squad regarding the death of Sidharthan JS, a second-year veterinary student at the Pookode College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Kerala, reveals details of the brutal physical assault and public trial he faced at the hands of his batchmates and seniors on the night of February 16. The report says that Sidharthan was assaulted at four different places — the hill top near the water tank in front of the men’s hostel, room number 21 on the first floor of the hostel, the hostel courtyard, and the corridor at the entrance of the dormitory. He was allegedly stripped down to his underwear after he was brought to the hostel, and the report says most of the 139 inmates witnessed this violence being unleashed upon him at the courtyard. Sidharthan was found dead in a men’s hostel washroom on the college campus on the afternoon of February 18. 

“All the students were made to wake up by knocking on the doors (to witness the assault). With many students watching, Sidharthan JS was forced to apologise publicly on an alleged misbehaviour with a girl and a group of students shouted at him and beat him up. He was slapped, kicked and beaten using hand, a belt and what appeared to be a charger cord of some electronic gadget,” says the report. A total of 18 students have been arrested in the case so far.

The report says that as per the statements received during the inquiry, Sidharthan had left the college campus for home on the night of February 15. As per a student’s deposition, Sidharthan was on his way home when his batchmate Rehan Binoy and a few others had called and asked him to come back to the hostel. 

The Vythiri police’s remand report had mentioned that a few batchmates and seniors had accused him of misbehaving with a female classmate during the Valentine’s Day celebration on campus on February 14. The remand report says that Rehan told Sidharthan this issue can be settled as per the “unwritten rules” of the men’s hostel, rather than letting it become a police case. Sidharthan accordingly reached the college campus around 8 am on February 16.

It was his batchmates Hashim V, Muhammad Dhanish M, Adithyan V, Saud Risal EK, Devarag Vijayan, Krishna Lal S, and Rehan who took Sidharthan to the hillock where he was first beaten up, as per the anti-ragging squad report. These students were also present when Sidharthan was later brought back to the hostel as well. Of them, Saud Risal, Adithyan, Dhanish, and Rehan have been named as the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th accused in the case respectively.

As per the depositions of students, Sidharthan was then subjected to physical assault by several students in room no 21 of the men’s hostel. Witnesses have confirmed the presence of at least 16 students there, including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) college union president K Arun, SFI unit secretary Amal Ihsan, and unit members Asif Khan and S Abhishek. They have been named the fourth, seventh, sixth, and 15th accused in the case, and the SFI — the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which in turn heads Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) — has expelled all four from the organisation.

Among the other students said to have been sighted at the room are Kashinadhan RS (second accused), Ameen Akbar Ali U (third), Sinjo Johnson (fifth), Ajay J (eighth), Saud Risal, Adithyan, Althaf A (ninth), Rehan, Akash SD (14th), Sreehari RD (16th), Dones Daie (17th), and Billgate Joshva (18th). 

Several witnesses informed the anti-ragging committee that Kashinadhan abused Sidharthan and used a belt to beat him many times. Sinjo was seen kicking Sidharthan on his chest and back many times. He allegedly placed Sidharthan’s fingers on ground and crushed them with his foot, grabbed his neck and pressed him against steel, and slapped on his body several times. Arun was seen lifting Sidharthan from the floor and forcing him to wipe the water from the floor with a cloth. 

The report says that Asif Khan brought another classmate to room no 21, where Kashinadhan forced him to beat Sidharthan. The classmate was later seen coming out of the room crying. Several hostel inmates said they heard loud noises and sounds suggestive of screams from the room. Later, Sidharthan was reportedly dragged down via the staircase amid continued assault.

At the courtyard, the report says, Sidharthan was asked to bend down as some students beat him on his back. He was also apparently asked to remain in a knee-bent position, as if he was sitting on an imaginary chair, without any support. Witnesses said Sidharthan was unable to maintain this position and kept falling frequently.

According to the report, a few students — Rohan Ramesh and a PG student Nithin Sankar were named — tried to persuade the group to stop assaulting Sidharthan, but did not succeed.

Sidharthan was later brought to the first floor where he was made to sit in a cot in the corridor leading to the dormitory, the report adds. Kashinadhan and Akhil (first accused in the case) allegedly beat him again here.

After the assault, some people took Sidharthan to his batchmate Krishna Lal’s room, where he stayed until he was found dead in the washroom nearly two days later. The report says that no one saw Sidharthan take any food since the morning of February 17, except for one student who said he had a bit of rice gruel. Sidharthan reportedly complained of throat pain later to a few fellow students, and some medicines were suggested to him. 

The report says that by the afternoon of February 18, Sidharthan was found missing in the room and was not responding to the knocks on the washroom door. So one of the students, Sushanth Kumar, forcibly kicked open the washroom door, only to find Sidharthan dead. Six other students and a mess employee were present at the spot when Sidharthan’s body was found. The students called the police and ambulance, and the Dean of the college, MK Narayanan, rushed to the hostel upon receiving the information from the assistant warden. Though Sidharthan was rushed to the Government Taluk Headquarters Hospital, Vythiri, he was declared as “brought dead.” 

Two students reported that they heard about Sinjo threatening students in the hostel, that no information regarding what happened in the hostel should be passed on to anybody.

As per the recommendations of the anti-ragging squad, up to 31 students of the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences have now been barred from studies. While 19 of them have been barred for three years, 12 have been barred for one year. The committee has recommended the college to expel the students from the hostel as well. None of the students can enrol in any other college during this period.

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