Parents said the girl was being harassed because she had complained about the quality of the food served at the residential school's hostel.
An 18-year-old intermediate student belonging to the Dalit community allegedly died by suicide in her alma mater at a social welfare Gurukula College in the Imampet village of the Suryapet district late on Saturday, 10 February.
The parents of the deceased girl alleged that the college management harassed and targeted their daughter.
In their complaint to the Suryapet Rural police, they mentioned the alleged role of the college “principal and staff” in the death of their daughter, identified as Daggupati Vaishnavi.
This is the third alleged student suicide in a week in the state. Two 15-year-old girls died by suicide at a government-run residential hostel for members of the Scheduled Caste in the Bhuvanagiri district on 3 February.
The Gurukula college was hosting a farewell party for Class 12 students on Saturday. Vaishnavi’s father Daggupati Venkanna said she participated in the events and shared details of them with her aunt on a WhatsApp video call.
“I met her in the morning and gave her accessories and flowers for the farewell. She also spoke to her aunt on video call in the evening and seemed completely fine. She sounded very happy about the farewell,” he told South First.
He added that the management was targeting Vaishnavi as she raised the issue of the bad quality of food being served in the hostel mess a few months ago.
“She never complained of any harassment but we believe she was being targeted,” said Venkanna.
However, reports suggested that Vaishnavi had three backlogs. The cops are now awaiting a post-mortem report to probe further.
The parents also alleged that the management initially concealed the alleged suicide from them.
“I got the call from the management around 10 pm [on Saturday]. They misinformed us, saying that she was sick, and asked us to visit the area hospital,” said Venkanna, questioning the hostel authorities’ decision to move Vaishnavi’s mortal remains directly to the hospital mortuary.
The family is now demanding strict action against the college management, starting with the suspension of the college principal. “The action is important so that other students do not face further harassment,” the father said.
A case of death under suspicious circumstances has been registered at the Suryapet Rural Police Station under Section 174 of the CrPC.
The family staged a dharna outside the residential college on Sunday. Telangana BSP president RS Praveen Kumar also took part in it.
Taking to social media, the BSP leaded demanded that Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy release an ex gratia of ₹1 crore to the families of the three students who died by suicide and a government job for one of the members of each student’s family.
“I participated in the dharna organised by the parents of the deceased in front of the school to demand justice for Daggupati Vaishnavi’s family, who died by suicide last night. The parents of the deceased are complaining, and not for the implementation of the six guarantees announced by the government,” he said.
In an earlier post, Praveen Kumar demanded a comprehensive inquiry into the series of suicides of female students in residential hostels.
“A psychologist or counsellor should be appointed immediately for each hostel, ashram, or gurukula school,” he said.
భువనగిరి ఎస్సీ బాలికల వసతి గృహంలో ఆత్మహత్యలకు పాల్పడిన భవ్య,వైష్ణవిల శవాలకు తడి ఆరకముందే సూర్యాపేట #TSWREIS బాలిక గురుకులంలో ఇంటర్ర్ రెండో సంవత్సరం చదువుతున్న దగ్గుపాటి వైష్ణవి ఆత్మహత్యకు పాల్పడడం చాలా విషాదకరం.
— Dr.RS Praveen Kumar (@RSPraveenSwaero) February 11, 2024
Taking the matter further, Praveen Kumar demanded the appointment of a SC, ST and minority welfare minister.
“It has been 60 days since the formation of the new government in the state, but the chief minister did not appoint a minister for the SC, ST, and Minority Welfare Departments,” he said.
The BSP president also noted that the government was not discussing the issue of student suicides in the ongoing Assembly session.
“Everything is being discussed in the Assembly, but there is no discussion on the serial suicide of students in gurukulas/hostels. Why? Are these children’s lives worthless? Or you don’t discuss it because your children are not studying in such welfare hostels? Is this what public governance is all about?” asked Praveen Kumar.
The Bhuvangiri police told South First earlier that the two girl students who died by suicide were enrolled in Class 10, and had their last conversation with their warden on 3 February.
The warden, one Shailaja, reportedly spoke to the students regarding a complaint against them.
“Some students of Class 7 had alleged that the two girls were in a relationship, and accused them of touching other girls inappropriately,” DCP M Rajesh Chandra said, adding that four girls, including two from Class 7, were counselled.
“The Class 10 girls reportedly left the counselling embarrassed that nobody believed that they were innocent. They did not go to the hostel mess to eat dinner but instead returned to the hostel and ended their lives. They also wrote a suicide note,” he said. The hostel is located 2 km from the residential school.
The question that the parents and relatives of the girls raised was why they were not informed of the complaints against the students and of the counselling by the institution’s management.
According to the FIR, accessed by South First, the parents complained that they got a call from an auto driver named Anjaneyulu, who informed them of the death of the girls.
The parents alleged in their complaint that the two girls had seen the auto driver frequently visiting the hostel cook Sulochana. They further alleged that the duo, fearing that the girls might tell others, must have killed them.
The local police had registered a case against five people under Section 174 of the CrPC. The five people were warden Shailaja, auto driver Anjaneyulu, cook Sulochana, PE teacher Pratibha, and tuition teacher Buvaneshwari.
Further, the warden was suspended by the SC Welfare Department.