Mother of Bengaluru student who died by suicide holds college management responsible

To save their reputation, the college management tried to hush up Aditya's death by suicide, claims the bereaved mother.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Jul 21, 2023 | 6:53 PMUpdatedJul 22, 2023 | 11:57 AM

Aditya Prabhu, the deceased student of PES College.

Deceased Bengaluru student Aditya Prabhu’s mother Asha Prabhu has made a strong appeal on social media regarding how her son was treated by the college, where he died by suicide.

She said she wanted the college management to admit to and acknowledge their mistake.

She also called for a change in the educational institution’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding students involved in situations like the one that drove Aditya to take the extreme step.

Taking a mobile phone into the examination room was not the same as being caught copying or cheating, she said.

The Girinagar police have registered a case of abetment to suicide.

“We have booked the invigilators, PES College management, and staff who have been named in the FIR. If any other sections of the IPC have to be added, it will done so as and when the investigation progresses,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) South P Krishnakanth told South First.

‘A heartbreaking tale’

Asha called her appeal on social media “A heartbreaking tale of injustice”, and used the hashtag #JusticeForAditya.

Aditya Prabhu with his mother

Aditya Prabhu with his mother

She wrote: “I am Aditya Prabhu’s mother, and my heart aches as I share this tragic incident. Aditya was a first-year CSE student at PES College, RR Road campus, Bengaluru. On July 17th he took a devastating step that we, as a family, can’t fathom. The college claims he was caught cheating and copying during an exam and detained him. But let me share our side of the story. [sic]”

According to Aditya’s mother, he called her at 11.45 am that day, distressed because he had forgotten to keep his phone in his bag during the exam.

When he realised his mistake, he placed it on a bench or the floor, with the airplane mode on, she said.

The invigilator saw it at 11.26 am, just four minutes before the exam’s end, and detained him, she claimed, adding that he had managed to complete the exam.

According to Asha Prabhu, what followed was a series of shocking events.

Aditya felt harassed, judged, and abandoned, she said, adding that he received harsh words instead of support, which broke his spirit.

His mentor should have stayed with him, but he was left unattended during a vulnerable moment, she said.

She also asked how the college could neglect a 19-year-old student in such distress, asserting that his death could have been avoided if he hadn’t faced mental torment and isolation.

The college staff distanced themselves from the situation, and Aditya’s body was considered unidentified. Their actions spoke volumes about their priorities, the mother stated.

“Aditya deserved respect, understanding, and compassion. Students have come forward with similar stories of harassment and fear for their futures. We demand justice for Aditya and a change in college procedures so that no other life is lost,” Prabhu said.

Aditya Prabhu was a first-year CSE student of PES College, RR Road Campus. On 17 July, he reportedly jumped to death from the eighth floor of a building on the campus.

The college told the media that the student was caught for an examination malpractice. He was counselled and when told that his parents would be informed, he jumped off the building.

Total recall

“Aditya also said that they were harassing him. They told him to better die rather than do such things and asked me to come to college. After some time, I got a call from his mentor in college asking me to come,” she said in the social media post.

“Later, I got to know from other students that the invigilators saw the mobile at 11.26 am with just four minutes remaining for the exam to end. When I reached there, no one was in the office and I was told to wait. I waited for nearly one hour till the mentor and Controller of Examinations (CoE) arrived,” she stated.

The college staffers were searching for Aditya. They told the mother that the student was asked to sit there, saying Aditya might be hanging out with friends.

Prabhu said it was unlikely for him to go out with friends since serious charges had been levelled against him.

“I demanded them to check the CCTV cameras for him and that he might be in danger if he wasn’t sitting there. They still kept telling me that he was out with friends. After some time, they started making some calls. And then they rushed out. I followed them to the other end of the campus,” she said.

“I saw an ambulance and the police there. I started shouting to know what had happened to my son. I was informed that he wasn’t alive. I asked them to take him to a hospital and try to revive him. What I heard next was unbelievable,” she noted on social media.

Inhuman treatment

“I was told to identify him first and sign a statement, and then they would take him to the hospital. Though alone, they took me (two or three of them holding me) to identify my son’s body. It was inhuman when I think about it now.

“Once I identified Aditya, they gave me something to sign and told me that as soon as I signed it, they would take him to the hospital. I was pressured to sign. It could probably be something that would help them wash their hands of the matter. They were trying to take advantage of my emotional state since I was alone,” Prabhu said.

Meanwhile, Prabhu’s friend had reached the scene. He told her not to sign any document until her family arrived. After her family and more friends arrived, they demanded a thorough investigation.

The forensic team and dog squad were called in only after the probe demand was raised, the mother claimed. CCTV footage was checked, and the police started questioning and recording statements.

“This went on till 7.30 pm. Except for an admin person, no one from the college was present. At 7.30 pm, the vice-chancellor came and said they were very sorry for what had happened,” Prabhu stated.

Questions galore

Asha Prabhu asked a few questions that need answers:

1. They saw the mobile and caught him at 11.26 am with only four minutes left for the exam to conclude. If he was copying, what were the two invigilators doing for the entire 2 hours and 56 minutes? Didn’t they see anything then? And if he was caught copying at 11.56 am, would they have allowed him to complete the exam?

2. Even if he had cheated, just follow the procedure. Why was he mentally harassed?

3. After detaining him, why was he left unattended? After levelling such serious allegations against him, shouldn’t somebody be with him? After all, he was a 19-year-old kid. Some are sensitive. How could they leave him alone, especially after mentally troubling him in such a way?

“I also got to know that the college told the police that the boy who jumped to death was not a student of the institution. They insisted the police shift the body. I was waiting in the college from 12.50 pm. I saw the body around 2.15 pm. Even though the college was aware of the incident, why wasn’t I informed earlier,” she asked.

“It’s because they wanted the body to be shifted out of the campus and wash their hands of. They wanted to protect their reputation. If my son hadn’t been harassed, if he wasn’t left alone and unattended, perhaps this could have been avoided. Wasn’t it the mentor’s duty to stay with my son,” she asked in her post.

Several other students have come forward saying that the same had happened to them and they, too, were harassed. They were told that their career was over, their lives destroyed, and they would never get a job.

“My poor boy just panicked that his reputation was destroyed and took this extreme step. I agree that carrying the mobile phone inside the examination hall, even unintentionally was wrong. But he didn’t deserve the harassment that forced him to take this extreme step. He didn’t deserve to be left alone either,” the mother rued.

Even after his death, he deserved respect. The body should be been identified instead of trying to shift it to a morgue as an unidentified body.

“I want the college to accept its mistake, and change its standard operating procedures in handling students involved in such situations so that another life is not lost. I want to clear my son’s name. Taking a mobile inside is not the same as copying. I want justice for my son,” she said.