VILLUPURAM: Three students of a private naturopathy and yoga college at Bangaram near Chinna Salem allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a well. Their bodies were found in a farm well opposite the college on Saturday morning.
The deaths come in the backdrop of a long-simmering dispute between the students - both present and former - and the management of the college over alleged fleecing and abuse. Matters came to a head a few months ago when a group of students attempted suicide by consuming rat poison on the campus.
According to sources, around 20 students are enrolled under various courses in the college. The deceased, identified as T Monisha (19), a resident of Chennai, E Saranya (19), of Cheyyaru in Kancheepuram district, and V Priyanka (19), from Tiruvarur, were second-year students. They had returned to the institution on Monday after Pongal holidays.
On Saturday morning, a few locals found the bodies in a well and informed the Chinna Salem police, who retrieved and sent them to the Mundiampakkam Government Medical College Hospital for post-mortem.
Blaming the college management and district authorities for the tragedy, the parents demanded an inquiry into the allegations levelled against the institution.
Sources said the investigators recovered a suicide note, purportedly written by the victims, from the spot. While the officials refused to divulge any details, sources said that college correspondent, Vasugi Subramanian, and his son Sudhakar, also a student of the college, were detained for an inquiry.
Sources said the students had taken to the streets a few months ago, protesting the management’s alleged decision to levy extra fee. The students had previously claimed that the management was fleecing them, and refusing to give receipt for extra money charged. Moreover, a few students had accused the college officials of making them do their household chores, and abusing them for raising the issue.
A few former students had submitted multiple petitions to both the then collector V Sampath, and the incumbent, M Lakshmy, but to no avail, sources said. When their repeated attempts to draw official attention failed to elicit any response, the students and their parents swarmed the campus, attempting mass suicide by consuming poison and self-immolation.