KOTTAYAM: The body of a 20-year-old BCom student, who went missing on Saturday, was found in the Meenachil river on Monday, kicking up controversy after her family accused a college at Cherpungal where she took the final-year exams of cooking up the allegation that she had indulged in exam malpractice. Though it is a suspected case of suicide, police have launched an inquiry into the incident to check the abetment angle in the death.
Anju P Shaji, daughter of Shaji of Poovathett house at Podimattom near Kanjirappally and a BCom student of a private college in Kanjirappally, was reportedly caught copying in the sixth-semester exam held at BVM Holy Cross College, Cherpungal, on Saturday. The girl, who left the college around one hour after the commencement of the exam, went missing.
Based on a complaint from her father, the police with the help of Fire Safety and Rescue Services personnel launched a search operation in the Meenachil river after her handbag and footwear were recovered from near the Cherpungal bridge. The fire force’s scuba diving team fished out her body by noon on Sunday 4km away from the bridge.
With the girl’s father and others accusing college authorities, especially principal Fr Joseph Njarakkattil, of harassing the girl in front of other students which allegedly forced her to take the extreme step, the college management explained to the media that she was caught cheating in the exam. She had scribbled notes on the subject of Saturday’s exam on the back of her hall ticket. To back the claim, they also produced a copy of the confiscated hall ticket and screened the CCTV footage showing the invigilator and college principal initiating proceedings after the malpractice was exposed. Later, she was found walking out of the examination hall and leaving the college in another scene.
Girl’s father blames principal
Meanwhile, the girl’s father denied the allegation of malpractice. “The college principal humiliated my daughter in public. Unable to bear the insult, she decided to end her life. Anju had always been good at her studies and she would never resort to anything unethical,” said Shaji. Later, Shaji lodged a complaint with the District Police Chief against Fr Joseph.
According to Kanjirappally DySP J Santhosh Kumar, a case for unnatural death has been registered and a preliminary inquiry launched to check the abetment angle. “We have seized the original hall ticket and answer sheets. We will seek the assistance of experts to verify the handwriting in the papers. Moreover, procedures followed by the college in the case of alleged exam malpractice will also be checked before coming to a conclusion. We might add relevant sections of the IPC based on the findings,” he said.
Women’s panel takes case
Though the college authorities submitted a preliminary report on the exam malpractice to MG University, C M Sreejith, Controller of Examinations, has sought a detailed report on the situation that led to the unfortunate incident. The Kerala State Women’s Commission has taken a suo moto case and directed the
District Police Chief, Kottayam, to probe the incident and submit a report.
Case for unnatural death registered
According to Kanjirappally DySP J Santhosh Kumar, a case for unnatural death has been registered and a preliminary inquiry launched to check the abetment angle.