Kerala governor suspends Kerala Veterinary University VC over student death

Governor Arif Mohammed Khan suggested a probe by a sitting or retired judge of a high court or the Supreme Court

Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: National Herald archives)
Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan (photo: National Herald archives)


Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan, as de facto chancellor of universities in the state, on Saturday suspended the vice-chancellor of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Wayanad in connection with the recent death of a student there.

In the order of suspension, Khan said the report submitted by VC Prof. (Dr) M.R. Saseendranath was "a testimony to the gross dereliction of duty on the part of the vice-chancellor" during the developments that led to the death of 20-year-old Siddharthan on 18 February.

"The indifferent, negligent and callous attitude of the VC towards his duties and responsibilities, especially in the background of this unfortunate incident is revealed from his report dated 28 February," the governor said and ordered a judicial probe into the student's death.

The governor also suggested a probe by a sitting or retired judge of a high court or the Supreme Court and said, "The registrar general, high court of Kerala, will be requested in due course."

Siddharthan, a second-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry student, was found hanging in the bathroom of his hostel on 18 February. His parents have claimed some of his college mates told them that he was beaten to death by a few local leaders and activists of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) the students' wing of the CPI(M).

The student's father contended that according to the postmortem report, his son's body had three days' worth of injuries and an empty stomach, which indicated that he was brutally beaten up and deprived of food.

The police, which had initially registered a case of unnatural death, later booked 12 students for various offences, including abetment to suicide, wrongful restraint, and voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means, under the IPC and the Kerala Prohibition of Ragging Act.

Later, the number of accused increased to 18. As of Friday evening, 11 people had been arrested in the case. Following the parents' claims, the Congress and the BJP accused the SFI of beating the student to death, an allegation the students' body has denied.

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