Was Kerala student tortured over a Valentine’s Day dance? Family demands justice

The police initially treated it as a case of unnatural death and subsequently escalated the investigation, charging 12 individuals with a range of offences under both the Indian Penal Code and the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act.
JS Sidharthan
JS Sidharthan
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Sheeba Jayaprakash, the mother of JS Sidharthan, whose lifeless body was discovered at the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Kerala’s Pookode on February 18, recalled the moment his body was brought home. “Aren’t you all happy now?” a few girls who were present there murmured to the boys, raising disturbing suspicions in Sheeba’s mind about the nature of her son’s demise.

As Sheeba and her husband continue to grapple with the agonising mystery shrouding their son’s fate, it has come to light that two days before his demise, Sidharthan endured a brutal assault orchestrated by his college mates, many of them members of the Students Federation of India, within the confines of their hostel. Hailing from Nedumangad of Thiruvananthapuram, Sidharthan’s family was initially informed that his death was by suicide. However, it was only after the postmortem report came out that the horrific extent of the second year student’s ordeal was revealed.

Sidharthan’s body was brought home on February 20, two days after his death. The postmortem and funeral were conducted on the same day. While the Wayanad Vythiri police have arrested six individuals in connection with the case, several others remain under suspicion.

According to the family's understanding, Sidharthan was allegedly assaulted by his seniors and friends, purportedly due to displeasure over him dancing with a few women college mates on February 14, Valentine’s Day. However, the family harbours suspicions that there might be an underlying motive behind the incident. 

Although the immediate cause of death was officially attributed to hanging, the report revealed at least 18 contusions and abrasions across his body. The postmortem examination documented multiple abrasions and contusions spanning Sidharthan’s head, face, neck, shoulders, chest, and hands. “He has sustained multiple blunt injuries including tramline contusion (a kind of bruising on the skin surface that can be caused when struck by a rod, cane, or lathi) of age 2 -3 days on the body suggestive of assault,” the postmortem findings read.

Sidharthan's father Jayaprakash
Sidharthan's father Jayaprakash

News reports indicate that Sidharthan had endured days of brutal torture, including starvation, allegedly at the hands of his hostel mates. Recounting a solemn exchange with his son’s friends, Sidharthan’s father Jayaprakash made shocking revelations and allegations against individuals within Sidharthan’s inner circle. “Sinjo and his team, along with Sidhu’s friends Akshay, Rahan, and Danish killed him,” alleged Jayaprakash. He claimed that Sinjo had threatened the others to keep mum, and alleged that the college also warned them against speaking out.

The police initially treated it as a case of unnatural death and subsequently escalated the investigation, charging 12 individuals with a range of offenses, including abetment of suicide, wrongful restraint, and causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, under both the Indian Penal Code and the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act.

Among the arrested suspects identified by the Vythiri police are Bilgate Joshua (23) from Sulthan Bathery, Donsdai (23) from Thodupuzha, S Abhishekh (23) from Idukki, RD Sreehari (23), Rahan Binoy (20), and SD Akash (22) from Thiruvananthapuram. Notably, all the accused are either leaders or members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI). While Sidharthan was also affiliated with the SFI, he was not an active member.

Speaking to TNM, Sidharthan’s parents emphasised that what transpired with their son transcended mere ragging. “Some of the accused in the case were his friends and batchmates. Last December, many of his friends came to our house and stayed for a day. Rahan Binoy was one among them. Another accused, SD Akash, is our relative. They were all together,” Sheeba recounted.

Sidharthan's mother Sheeba
Sidharthan's mother Sheeba

She recalled noticing a change in Sidharthan’s behaviour a week before the incident. “Whenever he called, he used to talk for at least 30 minutes, but that week he spoke only for less than a minute each time I called. Many times I couldn’t reach him and I used to text Akshay, his friend. Then, after some time, Sidhu would call me, talk for a few seconds, and hang up,” Sheeba disclosed.

Sidharthan’s college was to remain closed for several days starting from February 14, and although he had embarked on a homeward journey on February 15, he abruptly altered course, informing his family that he needed to return to college for urgent matters. “We had a festival in our temple that week. So he planned to come and was on his way. He reached Ernakulam, but then somebody might have called and threatened him, prompting his return, from which he never came back,” Jayaprakash said.

Sheeba last spoke to her son on February 18 at around 12.30 p.m. “He told me he was going to have lunch. The conversation was unusually short,” she recalled.

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584


Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222


Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.


State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

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