Students at the National Institute of Technology at Silchar in Cachar district of Assam on Friday night clashed with the police during an aggressive protest after the death of one of their fellow students at the college hostel. A student from Arunachal Pradesh, who was in the third semester of the electric engineering course, allegedly hung himself after he failed exams and couldn’t clear his back papers, sources said. He had requested the college authorities to allow him to register for the next semester, but it was reportedly turned down, they said.
Post-mortem of the student, Koj Buker, was completed this evening. His family members arrived from Arunachal Pradesh. The body and the belongings of the student were handed over to family members.
The police said they had to resort to mild use of force on Friday night to disperse the agitating students after tensions in the campus escalated as the students surrounded the official residence of the Registrar. A case of unnatural death has been registered.
The situation is under control now, sources in the police said, but tension prevails as more student agitation is expected today.
The Cachar district authorities, police, and the authorities of NIT Silchar had an emergency meeting over the prevailing situation, sources said, adding that the premier institute might remain closed until the situation is under control.
The agitating students are upset at some new guidelines introduced by the college administration.
“Yesterday, we waited the whole night for NIT Silchar Director, but he didn’t meet with us and declined all our requests. Every day, the institution has been introducing new guidelines for students. The students are not happy with the behaviour of the administration of NIT Silchar. Today, one of the students died by suicide due to depression,” one of the agitating students told NDTV.
The students allege they were protesting peacefully, and wanted to meet the Director of the institute, but were met with police batons instead.
“Our student, our senior, died by suicide, and we were doing peaceful agitation but the authorities of NIT Silchar didn’t even bother to come and talk to us. They unleashed police on us, police lathi-charged us,” another protesting student said.
The college administration confirmed the suicide, saying there had been “problems” with the student since his first year itself, and he might have been depressed as he couldn’t clear backlogs.
“In the evening, the alleged suicide happened, and we are all very sad about it. We responded promptly. There are some allegations, which are on a case-to-case basis, there were some small incidents before, but with this student, I am told right from the beginning of the first year there were problems, there were some backlogs and because of these backlogs he could not move with his batch and that might have created depression (sic),” Dilip Kumar Baidya, Director, NIT Silchar, said, adding that the administration is always ready, but his friends should have noticed the student’s mental state and flagged it to the authorities.
Police said the students vandalised cars and ransacked the residence of the Dean, and they had to take steps to de-escalate the situation.
“We got information about the suicide in the evening and we rushed here. The behaviour of the students was a bit unruly, they vandalised a few cars, and the residence of the dean was completely ransacked. We tried to negotiate with the student for a couple of hours. NIT will form an enquiry committee. The students were highly agitated, they resorted to violence and even as we were negotiating with them, they suddenly started throwing water bottles at us. We have decided that if the situation does not improve, we have to take some steps,” Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, Rohan Kumar Jha, said.