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August 16, 2000
TN student commits suicide following ragging
Our Correspondent in Kancheepuram
My daughter was forced to dance in the nude by seniors and sing lewd film songs - all in the name of ragging. Unable to bear the shame and humiliation and unwilling to concede to the raggers' demands, she chose the easy way out," a shocked Saraswati sobbed intermittently, as she narrated the 'death wish' of her daughter.
The family is yet to recover from the shock of losing their eldest child, the sister of two brothers.
If you thought ragging and the lewd behaviour of seniors in the name of 'acclimatising freshers' to the 'new environment' is confined to professional colleges and city campuses, you are mistaken.
Eighteen-year-old Deepa, on record, committed suicide by self-immolation. The first information report at the Sivakanchi police station did not even mention that. Instead, based on the family's claims, the police recorded a case of stove-burst causing burns. Which is not unnatural in a rural set-up, where college girls help their mothers in the kitchen.
Not until the higher-ups woke up to the possibilities and ordered a fresh probe, and got a dying declaration from Deepa recorded by a judicial magistrate did the truth emerge.
"I was watching television in the evening with my two sons, both younger to Deepa. She did not have the habit of watching TV, and instead said she was going to clean the puja utensils in the bathroom. We then heard her shrieks from the bathroom. She came running out, engulfed in flames."
The family poured water on Deepa and rushed her to a local hospital.
Deepa had sustained 80 per cent burns and hence had to be taken to the government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital in Madras, 70 km away.
After giving her dying declaration at the Kancheepuram hospital and fighting for life for over three days, Deepa breathed her last at Madras.
The shell-shocked family had come to accept it, by then, as they knew what was coming.
A first year student of microbiology at the Sri Krishna Arts and Science College at Keezhambi, near Kancheepuram, Deepa seemed to have enjoyed her early days on the campus. It was so different from school.
Trouble started only when classes for seniors started.
Juniors were asked to sing lewd film songs and gyrate to the tunes.
"Deepa used to complain that she was being forced to do obscene things," said her mother. Her father is a postmaster.
In her dying declaration, Deepa has named three seniors, one of them a girl, as forcing her to sing lewd songs. When she sulked and protested, the seniors demanded that she dance in the nude.
The police have registered a case of abettment to suicide against the three students, who have been dismissed by the college authorities.
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