Protest over teenager’s death in Odisha hostel
Parents of 19-year-old Ruchika Mohanty, whose body was recovered from a hostel room of BJB Autonomous College in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, on July 2, have launched a dharna in front of the college demanding justice for their daughter. The girl allegedly committed suicide in the hostel on July 2. Police have launched an investigation into the issue.
The issue rocked the state Assembly on Monday with the Speaker being forced to adjourn the House in the morning session. Both the Congress and the BJP demanded a CBI probe into the alleged suicide. As the stalemate continued, Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukh asked the government to make a statement on the issue.
Ganeswar Mohanty, father of Ruchika, alleged that it was because of the carelessness of the college authorities that the girl was forced to take such a drastic step. “Why have the authorities so far failed to identify the seniors who were responsible for the death of my daughter. Why is there no mechanism in place to prevent such incidents?” he asked.
Ruchika, a Plus Three first year student with history honours, had left a suicide note in which she alleged that it was because of three seniors that she had been forced to take such a drastic step. The police have sent the letter to the forensic department to ascertain if it was actually written by Ruchika.
The father alleged that her daughter had once told her mother about ragging by seniors two months back. “We had never taken the issue seriously. Today, we are paying the price for it. We had enrolled her in this college because she nurtured a dream of becoming an IAS officer,” said Mohanty.
The father said he would continue to sit on dharna along with his wife till they get justice in the form of identification of the accused involved in the case and until they are punished as per the law. The father also demanded that the college principal should be punished. “Why no action should be initiated against him? Why no counselling is there for students?” asked the father.
Mother Bidyutprava Mohanty, who was inconsolable, said: “My life has been ruined. I will not get back my daughter. But I want justice for my daughter.”
All India Students’ Federation (AISF) and other student organisations have come out in support of the parents and demanded justice for them. “There has been no college election since 2018. Students are not finding a forum to ventilate their feelings. In the last one year, 60 ragging cases have been registered but no action has been taken to address the issue. Seven states have implemented the anti-ragging law but Odishas is yet to do it,” said AISF’s Odisha unit president Sanghamitra Jena.
The heat of the issue was also felt in the state Assembly. As soon as the Question Hour began, both the Congress and the BJP MLA stormed into the well demanding justice for the girl. “Law and order has totally collapsed. The education system is crumbling in the state. The girl was a victim of the faulty education system. We want a CBI probe into the incident,” said Mohan Charan Majhi of BJP.
The Congress demanded the intervention of the chief minister into the case.
“Chief minister should intervene in the case. For a transparent probe, the case must be handed over to the CBI,” said Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray.