By Sharanya Gopinathan
Jishnu Pranoy was a first year student of the Nehru College of Engineering and Research, near Thrissur, Kerala who hanged himself in his hostel room on January 6th, 2017. His parents and friends allege that he was harassed by college authorities because he raised his voice against the college for repeatedly changing exam dates, and five college officials have been booked for abetting his suicide. Students and members of the Justice for Jishnu campaign allege that this was another of a spate of institutional murders of students, as in the case of Rohith Vemula.
His family has continually stated that the police’s investigation has been lopsided and inefficient. Even more horrifyingly, yesterday, Jishnu’s mother, Mahija, and his uncle, Sreejith, were beaten, kicked and dragged by Thiruvananthapuram police for staging a demonstration against the lack of satisfactory police action in this case at the DGP’s office in the state capital, and have been hospitalised after the incident due to the injuries they sustained.
The visuals from the incident are absolutely horrifying, and his family allege that there was a police conspiracy behind the brutal action taken against them. The Deccan Chronicle reports that while the people who were accused of abetting Jishnu’s suicide were provided easy chairs in the police station, Jishnu’s mother was dragged on the street. Jishnu’s family members are on an indefinite hunger strike until they receive justice.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has basically defended the police’s actions by saying that no one is allowed to protest in the DGP’s office (although Jishnu’s family was dragged outside the police station having already been refused permission to stage their protest inside the visitors area of the station, or even on the road outside the station), and that there were “external political elements” accompanying the student’s family. He has also refused to meet the family in the hospital, which is making a lot of people say that having a CPI government at the helm clearly doesn’t stop police from committing acts of brutality.
The Opposition in Kerala has declared a hartal to protest the attack on Jishnu’s family.