New Delhi/Bangalore: The death of a 19-year-old Manipuri boy under suspicious circumstances in his college hostel in Bangalore has sparked protests demanding justice for the student with his friends and family alleging that that he suffered fatal injuries in an assault by his seniors.
In Delhi, Richard Loitam's family and friends assembled at Jantar Mantar, seeking justice for the architecture student. Richard died in a Banglaore college hostel after a brawl over watching an IPL match on television. He apparently suffered a cerebral haemorrhage after being punched in the head by a fellow hostelmate. The family has alleged negligence by the institute and delay in medical help for their son. Forensic reports are still awaited in the case.
Loitam, a second semester student of the Acharya NRV School of Architecture in Bangalore North, was found dead on his hostel bed on the afternoon of April 18.
Disappointed with police's handling of the case, students and activists staged protests in Jantar Mantar in Delhi and in Town Hall in Bangalore.
While the police have described Loitam's death as the result of a two-wheeler accident he had met with two days earlier, friends of the victim insist that he died due to injuries he suffered on being severely assaulted by seniors at college on April 17.
According to the report filed with the Madanayakanahalli police by the hostel warden S Sudhakar, Loitam met with an accident on April 16 and was subsequently treated at Sapthagiri Hospital.
On the night of April 17, he reportedly quarrelled with his hostel mate Vishal Banerjee over watching an IPL match. Another student, Sayed Afzal Ali, intervened and hit Loitam on the face and head. Following the altercation, Loitam returned to his room and was found dead the next day.
However, with the postmortem report being inconclusive, police are looking for more leads. They said they are now waiting for the Forensic Science Laboratory report, which may take a month for completion.
But Loitam's friends and family are not convinced and questioned why police haven't made any headway even eleven days after the incident.
"The post mortem shows it is a homicide or by physical assault. So I want that the case be converted into homicide case. We demand justice and the culprit should be punished," Loitam's mother said in Imphal.
"They have not taken any action. Even the Karnataka government remains silent....I just want to appeal to every one that we want justice. Let's punish the culprits and arrest them and let's bring justice as fast as possible," Loitam's cousin Alshi Sharma said in Delhi.
Monika Khangembam, a protester in Bangalore, and others have been building up an online campaign to demand justice for Loitam. In less than 12 hours after it was set up, the Facebook group already had 5,000 members.
Pointing fingers at the college authorities, a friend of Loitam said it was not a case of drug abuse as made out to be.
"I have a picture and that's the evidence how negligent the college authorities have been. Looking at the picture, one can say it was not because of drug abuse? He had an accident on April 15. But it was a minor one and after the first aid he was discharged from hospital," another protester said.
"No one is looking into it. We want the police to look into the evidence, investigate the matter and take necessary action quickly," said the protester.
"It's been almost 11 days but no one has been taken into custody," said another protester.
The Peoples' Solidarity Concern, Bangalore, students from northeastern India and various other NGOs demanded police immeditaley arrest senior students who allegedly beat up Loitam leading to his death.
(With additional inputs from PTI)