VILLUPURAM: In a shocking incident, three girl students of a nearby private college allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a farm well after harassment by the management demanding 'exorbitant' fees, following which four persons have been detained and are being questioned.
"Four separate teams are on the job, we have detained four persons till now. After completion of questioning, all those who are involved will be taken to court and remanded,"a senior Villupuram Range Police official told PTI, adding probe is on.
Superintendent of Police Narendra Nair said cases under several provisions of the IPC and Women Harassment Act are being filed.
Asked if a suicide note was recovered, he said "we will let you know at the appropriate time after the probe is complete."
The suicides that occurred yesterday comes after recent protests by students alleging collection of exorbitant fees by a Yoga and Naturopathy college at Kallakurichi, close to nearby Chinna Salem.
Police said there were also other complaints from students, including of lack of amenities.
The deceased girls have been identified as second year students -- V Priyanka, T Monisha and E Saranya.
The girls allegedly tied themselves together with a dupatta and later jumped into a farm well near the college.
The bodies were retrieved by police and fire brigade personnel and sent to a government hospital for autopsy.
Expressing serious doubts about the claim of suicide, Tamilarasan, father of Monisha said "I cannot believe this...a few hours after she reached the hostel, they (college authorities) say she was found dead in a nearby well along with two of her friends."
He alleged that his daughter was victimised by college authorities like the two other girls as they had complained to district authorities over collection of exorbitant fees.
Villupuram district Collector M Lakshmi said the students had alleged that the college had collected exorbitant fees to the tune of several lakhs of Rupees over and above the fee structure determined by the government.
She said the students have demanded arrest of some key management personnel, including one Vasuki, over the deaths and to be transferred to another college due to lack of amenities.
They had also requested for Rs 10 lakh as financial aid to the next of the kin of each victim, the collector said.
Meanwhile, district revenue authorities sealed the college premises. The post-mortem is currently underway.
Pressing for their demands, the college students resorted to a brief road roko on the Tiruchirappalli-Chennai highway.
Asked about the charges of exorbitant fees being levied, Dr S Geethalakshmi, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University, to which the private college is affiliated, said an inquiry would be held.
"Right now, I can only tell you that all appropriate action is being taken, allegations will be inquired into fully," she told PTI.
Meanwhile, PMK chief Ramadoss demanded closure of the college and transfer of students to a State-run institution.
Alleging that the college students are constantly subjected to harassment, he demanded a proper probe into the suicide of the three girls and stern action against those responsible.
MDMK chief Vaiko too echoed similar views and demanded tough action against "those who are behind the suicides."
CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan demanded a CB-CID inquiry into the deaths.
"The deaths should be registered as cases of murder. Action should be taken against district and police officials who did not take appropriate action against the college despite complaints from students," he said.
He also demanded a solatium of Rs 15 lakh to the families of the dead students.