Kerala vet student death: CBI arrives in Wayanad, holds talks with police officials

CBI on Friday, 5 March, issued a notification announcing the takeover of the case, following a directive from the Kerala High Court.

BySouth First Desk

Published Apr 06, 2024 | 6:06 PMUpdatedApr 06, 2024 | 6:06 PM

Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. (Wikimedia)

A four-member CBI team has reached Wayanad to investigate the death of Siddharthan JS, a second-year student at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) in Pookode, Wayanad.

CBI on Friday, 5 March, issued a notification announcing the takeover of the case, following a directive from the Kerala High Court.

Kerala High Court had directed the Union government to issue a notification under Section 5 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, entrusting the CBI with the investigation.

The court order came in the wake of a petition filed by Siddharthan’s father T Jayaprakash. Earlier, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had notified the CBI’s investigation of the case.

A CBI team on Friday met with District Police Chief and Kalpetta DySP, who had been previously probing the case.

Also Read: Kerala student death: Congress, IUML, AAP workers lay siege to Secretariat

Family’s demand for a CBI probe

Jayaprakash had earlier met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and requested a CBI probe into the matter.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on 9 March, assured Siddharthan’s father that the probe would be handed over to the CBI. The government also issued a notification the same day, according consent to the central probe agency to investigate the case.

Sidharthan’s family had later alleged that the home department was delaying handing over of all the files related to the case to the CBI.

State government sources maintained that there was no delay on their part and it was the Central agency that was delaying the probe.

The government also dispatched the remaining documents to Delhi via a police officer of the rank of DySP.

Also Read: Sidharthan stripped, assaulted using a belt and wire, says remand report

Siddharthan beaten, starved before death

Siddharthan’s death had sent shockwaves across the state, sparking widespread outrage. The 20-year-old was found hanging in the bathroom of the college hostel on 18 February.

His parents claimed that some of his college mates told them that he was brutally beaten to death by some local SFI leaders and activists.

The father contended that according to the postmortem report, his son’s body had three days’ worth of injuries and an empty stomach, which indicated that he was assaulted viciously and not given any food.

The police, which initially registered a case of unnatural death, later booked 12 students for various offences, under sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon), 306 (Abetment of suicide), of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act.

Later, the number of accused increased to 18, all of whom have been arrested and remanded to judicial custody.

Also Read: Congress seeks CBI probe into death of Veterinary university student

Stripped, assaulted using belt and wire, says remand report

While urging the court to avoid giving bail to the accused, the report submitted by the police on Sunday, 3 March, said that a belt and a cable wire were used to assault Siddharthan.

The report said that his classmates and a senior held a public trial inside the hostel alleging that he had misbehaved with a female student of the college.

Police said that one of the accused called Sidharthan, who had left for home, back to the college to settle the issue related to his “misbehaviour” using the “unwritten law” of the hostel, instead of approaching the police.

“He was stripped down to his underwear and the accused assaulted him. Some of them used a belt and a cable wire,” the report said.

It said that the assault began on 16 February at around 9 pm and lasted till 2 am on 17 February.

Police urged the court not to give the accused bail as the parents of the deceased have demanded a full inquiry, claiming that the victim would not have killed himself.

In the meeting with the chief minister, his father also mentioned that considering the injuries suffered by his son — mentioned in the post-mortem report — several doctors had opined that Siddharthan could not have even stood up by himself.

“Therefore, I told the chief minister that my son was killed and it was not a suicide,” he said.

Also Read: V-C steps down even as unfulfilled CBI probe promise puts LDF govt in a spot

Allegations agaist SFI

Earlier, Dr MK Narayanan, the dean of the college, and R Kanthanadhan, the assistant warden of the men’s hostel, were suspended in connection with the death.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, as Chancellor of Universities in the state, had suspended the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof (Dr) MR Saseendranath, for negligence. A judicial probe was also ordered to look into the incident.

Following the claims made by the parents, political tensions in the state escalated with the Congress and BJP accusing the ruling CPI(M)’s student wing Students Federation of India (SFI) of beating Siddharthan to death.

Allegations of severe harassment and physical torture allegedly from ragging have been raised against members of the student outfit.

SFI has however, denied the allegations.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)