Villupuram: Tension prevailed around the Villupuram Mundiynapakkam government hospital on Sunday when parents, relatives and friends of the three girls, who reportedly committed suicide in the campus of the private college, gathered in front of the hospital and tried to prevent post mortems being done in the hospital.
The parents demanded that the autopsy should be done in Chennai. However, by evening, the police managed to convince the families and had the post mortem conducted on the bodies of two of the girls. Police have detained Sukhi Verma, son of the chairperson of the college Ms Vasuki Subramanian, and three other employees for questioning, while his parents are absconding.
It has been decided that the college would be sealed.
On Saturday, three girl students of SVS yoga medical college at Kallakurichi near Villupuram in Tamil Nadu were found dead in a well near the college. The deceased were identified as E Saranya, V Priyanka and T Monisha.
They were known to be the leaders of protests against the college for its inadequate facilities and high fees.
Police recovered a suicide note in which the girls said lack of facilities in the college and torture by the chairman of the college, Vasuki Subramanian, as reasons behind their decision to end their lives. The suicide note revealed that the college lacks the most basic facilities even though the management charges exorbitant fees without even giving proper receipts. The note says that they hope their death would help in necessary action being taken against the chairman.
There has been no tangible crackdown on financial exploitation of students by private colleges, including collection of capitation fee for the past decade.
On Sunday, the relatives of the girls and their classmates narrated how the SVS College of Naturopathy and Yoga Science that reportedly lacked in academic and infrastructural facilities, charged exorbitant fees, but issued receipts for lesser amounts.
Although a Fee Regulation Committee headed by a retired judge of the High Court, constituted as per the directions of the Supreme Court in the Islamic Academy of Education case in 2003, fixes the maximum fee that could be collected by an institution, the fee structure remains on paper in a number of colleges. Complaints to authorities have often gone in vain as in the instant case where the then Villupuram Collector failed to take concrete steps to deal with complaints lodged by students.
The only time the State witnessed strong and persistent action against errant engineering colleges was during 2002-05 when Prof. E Balagurusamy was the Vice-Chancellor of the Anna University. He took proactive measures like conducting periodic surprise inspections and encouraged students to lodge complaints.
“Colleges that refused to maintain minimum standards or fleeced students were disaffiliated and the students were transferred to other institutions. You don’t see such action now,” recalls a professor. It has been a while since the Fee Complaint Cell for monitoring engineering colleges has been active on the ground. “During the erstwhile DMK regime and also in the early years of this government, members of the Fee Complaint Cell did go on much publicised inspections of colleges to deal with students’ complaints. But many of these cases were never pursued to their logical end,” points out an academic.
Unfortunately many of them are beyond the purview of central regulatory authorities and are affiliated to State universities. Quite a few politicians pressure the universities to grant affiliation to the colleges,” says Prof M. Anandakrishnan, an eminent academician and former Vice Chancellor, Anna University.
“I won’t say this exploitation happens due to a lack of will. Sometimes it is due to available willingness, in the sense that they (authorities) simply close their eyes (to the exploitation). The public unfortunately is not organised enough to raise its voice against incompetent institutions and fleecing unlike in the case of Hyderabad (suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula),” adds Dr Anandakrishnan.