Underplaying the issue, HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao puts the figure of those who had committed suicide in private junior colleges this year at seven and 35 during the last seven years. In fact, 10 students ended lives in Oct
VIJAYAWADA: At a time when students are perishing like fleas unable to cope with the academic pressure, the State government is grossly underplaying the tragedy.
Human Resources Development Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao puts the figure of those who had committed suicide in private junior colleges this year at seven and 35 during the last seven years when the figure is much more alarming. He does not give any details about the parameters they had in arriving at the paltry figure of seven when the number is 10 this fortnight itself.
Throughout the year, one has been hearing of gory details of suicides of students across the State and their number, according to educationists, is definitely about 50.
Ganta admits that most of the deaths occurred in Narayana Group of Educational Institutions, which were promoted by Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana. Interestingly, Narayana and Srinivasa Rao are related. The reason stated for the suicides is parental pressure as parents want their children to live their dreams.
It is painful to watch the colleges and the parents ganging up against the students who have nowhere to go when they begin breaking down under the strain of studies. In some of the suicide cases, pressure and harassment from the college management and faculty were also stated to be the reasons for the extreme step. Apart from this, the students often have to cope with peer pressure, as the faculty would treat better only those who perform well in studies.
Y Renuka Chowdary who admitted her daughter into a private college in Vijayawada, sees nothing wrong in sending children to the colleges where there is backbreaking work.
When there is a sudden rash of suicides, the government sat bolt upright and called a meeting with representatives of the private educational institutions at the State secretariat where Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu initiated a series of reforms.
In fact, Srinivasa Rao had inspected colleges and hostels in Visakhapatnam and imposed a fine of `1 lakh on the management of Narayana institutions for running two hostels in Akkayapalem and Rama Talkies area without any permission.
There is a consternation among the parents and educationists that had the government woken up earlier, these suicides could have been prevented. Though the two-member Chakrapani Committee has submitted a set of recommendations to the government to make residential colleges stress-free for students, the government had not bothered about it so far. Now that there is a hue and cry that the government is soft pedalling the issue, the minister and officials are talking a lot about the care needed for the students in the residential colleges. The Chakrapani Committee report though it was tabled in the last cabinet meeting, was not taken up for discussion at all. MSR Anjaneyulu, president of AP Affiliated Junior Colleges Management Association, says henceforth Sundays are going to be real Sundays for students. “There will not be classes. It is our responsibility to save the lives of the children. The government is rolling out reforms. Everyone would have to abide by them,” he said.
But V Balasubrahmanyam, MLC (Teachers Constituency), dismisses the statistics dished out by the government as a tissue of lies. “We are seeing students committing suicide every other day and the government says only 35 students had ended their lives since 2012. Would anyone believe this nonsense?” he asks
What is painful is that after a student commits suicide, no punitive action has been taken against anyone. The police register a case under Section 174 of IPC (Unnatural Death) holding no one responsible for his death and the management usually would go scot-free as no action is taken against them either.
Even suicides that anyone could easily make out like hanging go as unnatural deaths in records and finally the cases are closed.This means that the college management goes scot-free though they are in a way responsible for the death of the student. No action is taken against the Education Department officials for failure to implement safeguards that had been evolved to ease pressure on the students.
The managements of Narayana and Sri Chaitanya group of institutions could not be contacted despite several attempts.
Case registration and investigation
“When a death occurs due to any reason in a college, we will first register a case under Section 174 of the IPC (Unnatural Death). Only when we get evidence that it is a case of suicide due to abetment, we alter the Section to 306 of the IPC. But in all the cases of deaths in colleges, we do not get evidence that they were instances of suicides,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Gajaraj Bhupal said recently, while commenting on the case of a suicide of an Intermediate student in Narayana College in Gudavalli campus near Vijayawada