Students and staff at St Stephen’s College, at a condolence meeting on Saturday, bid a teary farewell to three students, who had drowned in Kerala’s Periyar river a day earlier. The three students — Kennet Jose, a first-year student of BSc Chemistry, and Anubhav Chandra and Aditya Patel, both third-year students of BA Sanskrit — had gone on a college trip to Kerala. The group included 13 students and a warden. Benny Abraham — the father of another student from the college and the owner of a resort where the three were saying — also drowned.
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According to police, one of the students slipped and fell into the river, while the others died trying to save him. It is not clear who slipped first.
“We have lost four members of the St Stephen’s family today. This is a huge tragedy. We have to stand by the families of the children we have lost. We have got help from many quarters. Alumni have written to us, asking how they can help. The Kerala government has also extended a lot of help,” said college principal John Varghese before breaking down.
Some staff members went to Kerala on Saturday to help the parents of the students. The bodies are set to be taken to the students’ native places.
At the condolence meeting, teachers spoke at length about the three students — most of them were in tears while doing so. Friends of the three said they were in touch with them till an hour before the incident.
Jose, who is from Kerala, had joined the college in July this year. Not many knew him on campus, but the ones who did said he was a “pleasant boy”. “I remember Kennet as a very bright and intelligent student. He was always polite. I had no idea he had gone on the trip. This has come as a shock to all of us,” said a chemistry teacher.
Anubhav Chandra, from Jehanabad, was the vice-president of the Hindi Literary Society. He was considered a “brilliant” student by the faculty as well as his peers. He was also involved in several extracurricular activities.
Aditya Patel, who was from Gorakhpur, was the president of the Hindi Literary Society, and had topped his batch recently. “He had a flair for writing and shared a remarkable rapport with all teachers and students,” said Pankaj Mishra, who teaches Sanskrit at the college. The administration said they are helping the parents of the students with travel arrangements.