People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 14, 2012





Putting an End to Suspicious Deaths



ON September 02, 2012 a dalit Arunthathiyar family that was dreaming to produce the "first engineer" from their family had received a phone call. That call had not only shattered the dream but also informed that it should be buried en tout.


V Gayatri, daughter of Vetrivel and Kaliammal, was a second year student of B.Tech at Vivekananda Engineering College in Tiruchengode, Namakkal district. On that day, the college management informed the girl's parents on phone that she had committed "suicide".


The parents rushed to the spot. When they saw the body of their daughter, they smelled some foul play. The enquiries on her decision to commit "suicide" had received different replies from different quarters. The parents, relatives and some organisations had demanded for enquiry and refused to take the body. The police had agreed to conduct the post-mortem in the neighbouring district ie, Salem. But, that exercise was also rushed up and no witness was allowed during the post-mortem.


On the insistence of the police, the parents had taken the body to their hometown. But, on September 7, hundreds of girls had staged sit-in demonstration saying that Gayatri's death should be probed and there are many doubts to be cleared. These students were threatened with the help of police and college administration had announced that the college has been indefinitely closed.




Studentsí Federation of India (SFI) cadres had met the district collector and submitted a petition. In that, they had raised various questions which are still unanswered. SFI had alleged that Gayatri was forced to attend the medical camp when other students were sent home. In her room, eight students were staying. On that day, other seven students were "permitted" to go home. The college management had rushed the body to the Government Hostel. They did not even wait for the police to come to the scene. The police were not even informed of the incident. Nobody knew how the body was brought to the GH and who had brought it there. All these doubts were raised by SFI in their petition to the district collector. As far as this education institution is concerned, this is not the first time that a doubtful death had happened. In the recent period itself, four other girls had committed "suicide"!


Sensing the foul play, a joint call was given by Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) and Studentsí Federation of India (SFI) to stage a demonstration on October 4 to demand CB-CID enquiry into Gayatri's death.  The parents also made a complaint to these organisations and requested to intervene.   Prior to this, two dalit organisations, Athi Thamizhar Peravai (ATP) and Athi Thamizhar Makkal Katchi (ATMK) had decided to organise demonstrations. Citing the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, they were denied permission to demonstrate. But, they had decided to go ahead. The demonstration of ATP was brutally attacked by the police. More than 300 cadres, including its founder president R Athiyaman were arrested. District units of the CPI(M) and the TNUEF had immediately rushed upto the district collector and the SP and insisted that the demonstrators be released immediately. Though they were released, democratic organisations had decided to take the struggle further. When the cadres went to the police for seeking permission, they were told that it will not be given. TNUEF, AIDWA and SFI had decided to demonstrate even without the permission. The permission was given just a day earlier, but it came with many riders.




The conditions put forth by the police were  that the  demonstration should be conducted between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm; that no Shamiana or chairs will be allowed and for any untoward incident in any part of the district, the organisers and important leaders who takes part will be held responsible etc.


Despite police blocking the people in some places to prevent them from taking part in the demonstration, hundreds of men and women took part.  In his speech, P Sampath, state president, TNUEF had cautioned the police not to increase the number of blunders they had committed. The struggle for justice in Gayatri's death will not be over until we get the justice. Also, other so-called suicides and deaths also need to be probed, he insisted. SFI state president, K S Kanagaraj had called for a thorough enquiry and pointed that there is a need to put an end to these deaths all over the state.


Addressing the massive crowd, U Vasuki, Central Committee member of the CPI(M) and all India secretary, AIDWA gave a rousing speech. She questioned the version of stomach pain, a reason for committing suicide. Since ages, it has been the practice by the police to close the file. She also charged the police of becoming a tool in the hands of the college administration.  A Rangasamy, district secretary, CPI(M),  Ganesh, state secretary, TNUEF, Neelaventhan, treasurer, ATP, Suba Ilangovan, president, ATMK and leaders of various organisations participated. Cadres from the neighbouring districts of Salem and Erode have also taken part in good numbers.


The demonstration and the larger participation in it, had brought the suspicious deaths of students into the fore. In many education institutions, this has become a routine and most of them go uncovered. The leaders in the demonstration had underlined that this is not tolerable. Hence, larger struggles are in store on the issue.