A second-year mechanical engineering student of a private college in Avadi hanged himself at his Korattur home on Wednesday evening. Police said he took the extreme step because his college — VEL TECH MULTI TECH DR. RANGARAJAN DR. SAKUNTHALA ENGINEERING COLLEGE — abruptly gave him a transfer certificate due to his poor performance in exams.
Korattur police identified the student as Jayakar (19), a resident of Bharati Nagar in Korattur. His father Ravi is a paan seller while his mother died many years ago. On Wednesday evening, he returned home from college and locked himself in his room. His cousin knocked on the door around 5.30 p.m. but there was no response. Finally some people in the house broke open the door and found Jayakar hanging from the ceiling with a sari.
Jayakar’s father told The Hindu that he realised the reason behind his son’s suicide only when he found the TC in his son’s backpack. “I was aware that he had arrears in some subjects but the college should have informed me before giving him his TC. The college authorities, including the principal, have acted irresponsibly,” he added. He later lodged a complaint against the college administration with the Korattur police, which first registered a case under Section 174 of CrPC (unnatural death) and later altered it to Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of IPC.
College officials declined to comment on the suicide. No arrests were made until late on Thursday evening.
As the news of Jayakar’s death spread in his college, more than 100 students staged a protest near Avadi market on Thursday morning, demanding immediate police action against the management and the principal. One of his classmates who was part of the agitation, said that Jayakar, after receiving the TC on Wednesday, left the college without saying a word to anyone. “He had around 16 arrears but there are other students with even more arrears. He had four more semesters to clear them,” the classmate said.
Students said that Jayakar was one of the students asked to report to college to collect hall tickets, but were handed TCs instead. Their exams begin on Monday.
The Directorate of Technical Education has written to the college, asking for a report on why the TC was issued without consulting the parents or Anna University to which it is affiliated. “TCs can never be issued by affiliated colleges without the consent of the university. It is an unfair practice that It will cost the college dearly if found to be true,” said a senior official at DTE.
All higher educational institutes in the State have been asked to ensure drop-out rate among students is minimal, hence TCs are the last resort and issued only in cases of students being involved in criminal activities. “Even then, the college needs to form a committee, conduct an enquiry and give a warning to the student,” the official said, adding, “The maximum a college can do if a student has many arrears or poor attendance is fail him for a semester. Only the university can decide on his TC,” said the official.
Students are angry. “Our parents are summoned every now and then but not when a TC is issued. And “This has not happened for the first time. Nine students got a semester drop last year and Nearly four students in every class this year have already been issued TCs and asked to look for other options,” said a student.
The Vel Tech colleges are affiliated to Anna University but have follow their own rules of mandatory attendance and scoring patterns that are not mandated by the university. “But officials compel academically weak students to leave college by forcibly issuing TCs to make sure the results are good,” said a student.
POOR attendance and low performance in examinations are reasons that the college cites to issue TCs. The 75 per cent attendance mandated by Anna University is taken so seriously in VEL TECH colleges that even if the student is absent for one lecture, he is marked absent for the entire day, said students.
“Those with arrears have to compulsorily attend extra classes after college and if they are not present, will lose attendance for the entire day. Many don’t feel like attending these extra classes as they only prepare you for the current semester and don’t teach you the subjects you have failed in,” a student said. ID cards are confiscated if you don’t follow the dress code, sport a beard or even bunk a lecture or don’t finish an assignment and students lose attendance that way too.