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Students in suicide pact, one dies

Imphal, Sept. 10: A Class VIII student of Manipur died while three of his classmates survived an alleged suicide pact the quartet entered into after being allegedly scolded by their teachers for not paying attention to their studies.

Maibam Milan, 14, of Leishangthem Keli Makhong village under Thoubal police station was found hanging with a plastic rope from a wooden bar on the ceiling of the verandah of the primary school in neighbouring Keibung village early this morning, police said. All four were students of Keibung high school, located near the primary school.

After preliminary investigations and recording the statements of the three classmates, Jeevan Singh, Amarjit Singh and a girl identified as Anar, police said Milan and Anar, a resident of Keibung who belonged to another community, were in a relationship. The teachers knew of this and had scolded the four students for bunking classes and not paying attention to their studies. The three classmates, who have been detained for questioning, told the police that after frequent scolding by their teachers, the four of them decided to commit suicide together. The police found four signed suicide notes at the spot.

The three recounted at the police station that they went to the primary school last night. First Milan and Anar attempted suicide. On seeing their pain, Jeevan and Amarjit tried to save them. They pulled down Anar, but failed to save Milan.

The boy’s relatives and neighbours initially suspected foul play. The police pacified them by calling them to the police station and making them listen to the three classmates. Milan’s parents have not lodged any complaint against the teachers but have demanded a thorough probe.

The police said investigations were on and that they had not arrested the students, only detained them for questioning. The police said some teachers of the high school came to the police station and expressed shock over the incident. They said they did not ill-treat the students but were giving them advice. They sometimes scolded them so that they paid more attention to their studies. They could not believe that their students would go to such extremes.

The incident has sent shock waves among the residents of the area. “It is hard to believe that such young children could think of taking such an extreme step. I have never heard anything like this before. It is really tragic,” said Binoy Singh, one of the many who had gathered in front of the police station.

The students’ suicide attempt came on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day today. On an average, 3,000 people commit suicide in the world every day. For every person who commits suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives. About one million people commit suicide every year. There is strong evidence that adequate prevention can reduce suicide rates. The World Suicide Prevention Day, which first started in 2003, is held on September 10 every year as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and World Health Organization.