Mass protest by students in Hyderabad after 23-year-old woman dies by suicide over ‘TSPSC exam delay’

She had attempted both the Group-1 and Group-2 examinations, with Group-1 being cancelled twice after her appearances and Group-2 being postponed due to elections.

BySumit Jha | Ajay Tomar

Published Oct 14, 2023 | 1:28 AMUpdatedOct 17, 2023 | 4:29 PM

Pravalika suicide

Mass protests erupted in the Ashok Nagar area of Hyderabad on Friday, 12 October, following the alleged suicide of a student. Hundreds of students gathered demanding justice, and holding the ruling BRS government in Telangana responsible for the unfortunate death.

Pravalika, an aspirant for the Telangana State Public Service Commission (TSPSC) exam, was found dead in her hostel room in the Chikkadpally Police Station limits.

Initial reports indicate that 23-year-old Pravalika, a resident of Warangal, had come to Hyderabad to prepare for the TSPSC examinations.

She had attempted both Group-1 and Group-2 examinations. Group-1 exams were cancelled twice after she had appeared for them, and Group-2 was postponed again due to the elections being declared.

The young woman allegedly took the extreme step disheartened over the repeated postponement of the exams.

“She was deeply distressed. She struggled to continue staying at a private hostel while exams kept getting postponed,” a close friend of Pravalika told South First.

The news of her alleged suicide spread rapidly on social media, leading to hundreds of young people gathering near her hostel.

Subsequently, protestors blocked the road, causing disruptions to late-night traffic in Ashok Nagar and at the RTC crossroad. After hours of protest, police resorted to force to disperse the crowd.

Also read: Telangana High Court cancels TSPSC Group-1 prelims

A painful note to parents

“I humbly ask for your forgiveness, mother. I have always felt like a failure. I know that father and you have been concerned about me. Please don’t shed tears. Ensure your safety. I consider myself fortunate to be your daughter, and I hope to never bring shame to our family. I feel as though I’m letting all of you down, and I doubt anyone will find it in their hearts to forgive me for this. I am unable to be of any help to both of you. To Prani [addressing someone specific], please take care of our parents,” a letter reportedly found in Pravalika’s room read.

Protestors clash with police in Hyderabad following death of TSPSC exam aspirant. Photo: Ajay Tomar/South First.

Protestors clash with police in Hyderabad following death of TSPSC exam aspirant.
Photo: Ajay Tomar/South First.

The unfortunate death and the protests that followed were picked up by Opposition parties in poll-bound Telangana.

Unemployment has been a big poll issue in the state and the alleged suicide of a TSPSC exam aspirant is expected to further fuel the battle at the hustings.

Telangana Congress, while expressing condolences, appealed to students against resorting to extreme measures.

“We are deeply saddened by the suicide of Pravalika, a student who was under immense mental pressure due to exam postponements. We pray for the family’s strength during this difficult time. We urge those facing unemployment not to lose hope,” a post by INC Telangana on X, formerly Twitter, said.

Leaders of Congress as well as AIMIM and BJP were seen joining protestors outside the hostel on Friday night.

The BJP, too, took to its social media pages to extend solidarity to students and demanded that the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao-led government be held accountable.

Also read: ED steps in to probe TSPSC question paper leak case

‘Deeply frustrating situation’, say students

“The situation is deeply frustrating, especially with TSPSC Group 1 and other examinations. Government failures, including instances of paper leaks and subsequent court judgements, have only added to the difficulties. The postponement of exams due to elections has further exacerbated the situation,” Sindhu Gadhe, a student from Nalgonda district who is preparing for the examination for three years, told South First.

She added that students have been diligently preparing for years, and it is disheartening to see these delays.

The death of an aspirant — one among them — left students fuming on Friday night. Even as hundreds of students gathered to protest, youth wing members of Opposition parties too joined protests leading to tense moments.

Protestors could be heard shouting slogans against Chief Minister KCR and demanding justice for Pravalika. A sea of protestors gathered near the DST flyover at RTC Cross Road. Heavy police deployment was made in the area as protests continued past midnight.

Even as police tried to convince students to end their agitation, the protestors sat down, blocking the roads. The massive crowd made it impossible for the police to shift the deceased student’s mortal remains out of the hostel.

Police resorted to the use of force after some protestors clashed with security personnel when attempts were being made to disperse the crowd. After moments of police resorting to force, the crowd dispersed from the protest site.

The mortal remains of 23-year-old Pravalika were moved to Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad.

“A student, Pravalika, is suspected to have died by suicide between 7 and 8 pm. She was 23 years old and was from Warangal. Her body is still in the hostel. The hostel hasn’t been sealed yet. Some students and even Congress and BJP leaders are here,” Naresh Pidamarthy, SHO of Chikkadpally police station told South First at 12.50 am.

Her mortal remains were finally shifted at around 1.30 am.

Speaking with South First, Chikkadpally ACP M Venkateswarlu said, “We got a call, and inspector Naresh immediately went to the spot.”

He says, “According to the information we have — 23-year-old Pravalika hailing from Narsampet, Warangal died of suicide.”

Speaking further about Pravalika, the ACP says, “She joined Vaishnavi girls’ hostels just 10-12 days back for her coaching. Her roommates Shruthi and Sandhya say that she’s been dull and depressed ever since she came.”

He confirmed she was taking coaching for the TSPSC Group-2 exams.

About the suicide, ACP Venkateshwarulu says, “Shruti left to have her dinner, and Pravilaka was alone in the room, it’s then she died of suicide.”

He adds, “Immediately the police teams searched her room and found the suicide note, it was her handwriting.”

Speaking further about the suicide note, he says, “In the note, she was asking for forgiveness from her parents and didn’t specify the reason for her taking the step. She just mentions personal problems.”

Reacting to the protests, he says, “Later we got to know that a few other students and others had started protesting. But it is clear from the suicide note that it was due to her personal problems.”

The ACP says Pravalika’s family members also have arrived, and their statements have been recorded. Pravalika’s body is now in Gandhi Hospital, after postmortem she’ll be shifted to her native place.

The police officer further adds, “Now the other students are trying to portray that the reason was TSPSC group exams. But it is not true, her suicide note and even her roommate Shruti has said it was due to her personal problems.”

“Her health did not seem well enough. Yesterday we took her to the hospital as she was not okay. She used to stay on the first floor in a room shared by five people,” a staff of the hostel told South First.

TSPSC examinations

On 23 September, the Telangana High Court took a significant decision by cancelling the TSPSC Group-1 preliminary examination. This cancellation was due to the TSPSC not following the proper procedures during the exam.

The verdict came in response to a petition filed by candidates and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) — the student arm of the Congress — who raised concerns about the absence of biometric verification during the Group-1 preliminary examination.

They also noted that the TSPSC had provided OMR sheets without including hall ticket numbers.

In March this year, the TSPSC had already announced the cancellation of the Group-1 preliminary exam, which had initially taken place on 16 October, 2022. The cancellation was due to concerns over the leak of the question paper.

A second attempt was made to conduct the exam on 11 June, but candidates faced various issues with the arrangements.

Group II examinations

On 10 October, the TSPSC decided to postpone the recruitment examination for Group 2 posts.

The exam, originally scheduled for 2-3 November, has now been rescheduled to take place on 6-7 January, 2024. This postponement was necessitated due to the upcoming Telangana Assembly elections.  The Election Commission of India has announced 30 November as polling date for the elections.

The decision to delay the examination was made during a meeting of the commission, with Chairman Janardhan Reddy presiding over the proceedings.

Approximately 5.51 lakh candidates had applied for this examination, vying for 783 vacancies in the state government.