Ankush Anand, one of the three students who died by suicide on Monday in Rajasthan’s Kota — the city which feeds the engineering and medical institutes of the country through its famed coaching centres — was apparently mentally disturbed or suffering from depression.
The police said that he was heard weeping in his room post-midnight on Monday. He was also skipping classes. But no one apparently asked him what the problem was. “Had that happened, had any of the children took the time to talk to him, maybe this could have been averted,” said Kesar Singh, the city police chief.
Kota, the high-pressure crucible, witnessed 14 suicides by students this year.
The city, whose coaching institutes draw students from across India, however, spends little time on them or takes little care. Once in town and enrolled in a coaching institute, the students are pushed into a gruelling schedule, where they study for 15 hours a day and are racked with guilt for sleeping an extra hour.
They live in tiny cubbyholes of rooms labelled hostels or paying guest accommodation, which have little fresh air and light and even less regulation and supervision. “For these landlords, the students are ATMs. They do not care about us, only the money we bring them,” is the refrain from the student community.
Ankush and Ujjwal — friends from Bihar who lived in rooms next to each other in such a building — ended their lives on Monday. The third student was Pranav, who came to Kota from Madhya Pradesh, and was preparing for the medical entrance exam NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate).
Devshree Tandon, a neighbour of Ankush who had brought him to Kota along with her son, denied the police claim that he was disturbed. “He was a matured kid… we didn’t like to disturb these kids when we met them, since they were always busy with studies,” said the woman, who is now taking her son home, away from the pressure.
Almost all the students living in the building appear deeply shaken and have decided to move out. Mrs Tandon’s son, who is also prepping for NEET, was no exception. “Two suicides happened here. Why should we stay here?” he told NDTV. Asked how he will continue his studies, he had no response.
At a meeting today, the administration decided on laying down some guidelines for the coaching institutes. These would include monitoring attendance, quarterly parent-teacher meetings and tests on Saturday so Sunday can be a day of rest. There can be no tests on Monday, the government has said. Another set of rules are expected for the residential facilities for students.
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