Student's death triggers chaos and protests at NIT Silchar

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Guwahati, Sep 16, 2023, IANS

Following the tragic death of a fellow student in a college hostel on Friday night, tensions escalated at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Silchar, Assam's Cachar district.

Students engaged in a physical confrontation with the police, who later resorted to using force to disperse the agitated students. The situation remained tense throughout Saturday.

According to the police, the deceased student, enrolled in the third semester of the electrical engineering course and hailing from Arunachal Pradesh, allegedly took his own life after facing academic challenges, including failing exams and unresolved back papers.

The protesters claimed that the student had sought permission from the college administration to enroll in the following semester, but his request was reportedly denied.

Emotions ran high on campus as students gathered outside the Registrar's official residence late on Friday night, prompting the police to intervene forcibly. A case of unnatural death was registered, and the student's body was sent for a post-mortem examination.

Although the situation is currently under control, police sources anticipate further student unrest on Saturday. An emergency meeting was convened involving Cachar district officials, the police, and NIT Silchar administration to address the ongoing situation. The possibility of temporarily closing the prestigious institution was discussed until calm is restored.

The protesting students expressed anger over recent changes in college rules. They alleged that while peacefully demonstrating and attempting to meet the institute's director, they were met with police baton charges.

A protesting student stated, "Our fellow student and senior committed suicide, and we were peacefully protesting, but the NIT Silchar administration did not even engage with us. They resorted to lathi-charging and deploying the police against us."

NIT authorities acknowledged that the deceased student had faced challenges since his first year, which may have contributed to his untimely demise.

Dilip Kumar Baidya, director of NIT Silchar, said, "The unfortunate suicide occurred in the evening, and we are deeply saddened by it. We responded promptly. However, this student had encountered issues from his first year, including academic backlogs, which prevented him from progressing with his batch and may have led to depression."

He added, "There are individual concerns among the students, which we are addressing on a case-by-case basis."

During the unrest, the Dean's official residence was breached, and vehicles were vandalized, according to the police.

Rohan Kumar Jha, deputy commissioner of Cachar, stated, "The students became agitated and resorted to violence due to their profound distress. Even as we were in negotiations with them, they began throwing water bottles. If the situation does not improve, the district administration will take necessary measures." (Edited)