Tension has gripped a small town in Tamil Nadu after the death of a Class 12 student sparked massive protests. The girl, who was studying in Kaniyamoor Sakthi Matriculation School near Chinnasalem, died at her hostel on Tuesday, July 12, and a note found in her room alleged that two teachers at the school “tortured” her, leading to her suicide.
Though protests have been going on outside the school for many days, the peaceful blockade took a violent turn on July 17, as hundreds including relatives, former students of the school and the general public joined in.
The protesters clashed with the police, pelted stones at them and smashed police vehicles with sticks, and rammed school buses with tractors. Some school buses were also torched.
In videos coming in from the protest site, scores of agitated people can be seen breaking through police barricades, leading to physical altercation with the police.
Tamil Nadu DGP Sylendra Babu addressed a press conference on Saturday and appealed for calm. He also said that police will take action after a detailed investigation.
In other visuals, a police bus can be seen to have been set on fire by the protesters. Other visuals show a few protesters using a tractor to ram into school buses parked in the campus and smash them.
The tractor too was set on fire later. Several school buses were also set on fire, some were toppled. The protesters were shouting for justice and used the slogan, “poraduvom”, meaning “we will protest”.
As per reports, the girl’s body was found the day after her death, on Wednesday, by a watchman at the building. Though she was rushed to a nearby government hospital, she was declared dead.
The police have registered a case of unnatural death under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Kallakurichi SP Selvakumar told the Indian Express that the girl’s body will be handed over to the family once post mortem is completed.
However, the girl’s family alleges that her death was not by suicide. Speaking to TNM, her uncle Sabarinathan said, “The child’s death was not a suicide. It is clear from the fact that what we saw is different from what the school is claiming.
Her body has several injuries but the school claims that she died of suicide.” In their complaint to the police, the family also alleged that the girl might have been sexually assaulted and killed, as the complaint states that the girl’s injuries were not consistent with the school’s version of events.
Sabarinathan alleged that the school management was responsible for her death, and said that they would not accept the body from the police until those responsible are held. The family and others have also alleged that similar such deaths have taken place in the school.
Meanwhile, the police said that an investigation into the matter is ongoing, and that a special team has been formed for the probe.
Inspector Chandrasekaran told TNM that so far they have uncovered two such deaths that had happened previously at the school, and that investigation is underway to find more.
“We went to the spot but there was no body, they (the family) had taken it to the hospital. So we don’t know exactly how the death happened and we are inquiring into that,” the inspector said.
If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.
State health department’s suicide helpline: 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre – 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)
Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930
Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584
Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222
Maithri: 0484 2540530
Chaithram: 0484 2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
State government’s suicide prevention (tollfree): 104
Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200
SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)
Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.
24×7 Helpline: 9820466726
Click here for working helplines across India.