Two weeks after three students of St Stephen’s College drowned while on a trip to Kerala, semester exam results declared Wednesday showed that one of them, Aditya Patel, topped the Delhi University. Patel was a third-year Sanskrit Honours student.
His classmate Anubhav Chandra and first-year student Kennet Jose, who also lost their lives, received high marks as well. Students of the college organised a prayer meeting on Wednesday. While the meeting was held in one of the larger classrooms, dozens of students stood outside in the corridors and lawns, still finding it difficult to come to terms with the tragedy.
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“Most students had already left for the holidays when we got the news, so we decided to organise a prayer meeting now,” said third-year student Sameer Sagar. The three students and Benny Abraham, the father of another student from the college, had died after being swept away in the current of the Periyar river while on a college trip on December 16.
According to reports, Aditya was the first to slip on the stones and get caught in the undercurrent of the river, while Anubhav fell in trying to help his friend. Abraham, the manager of a resort where the students were staying, entered the river to rescue them but fell under the current. Jose then jumped into the river to help them but was also carried away by the current.
On Wednesday, friends and teachers spoke about the vibrant, outgoing and fun-loving students, especially the two third-year students who were actively involved in college activities.
Teachers also talked about the bravery of Jose, who jumped in to save three others despite the dangerous current. Aditya’s sister Shivangi Patel also attended the prayer meeting, though family members of the other two students were not present.
“We expected great things from both Aditya and Anubhav. They were the mainstays of the Sanskrit department and many societies of the college,” said Ashutosh Dayal Mathur, associate professor and head of the Sanskrit department at St Stephen’s.
Teachers say that Aditya had consistently topped the class in the last four semesters, and was among the top three or four students in the university results as well. A budding poet and theatre enthusiast, Aditya was also an avid artist.
His sister Shivangi (24) said it had been his wish to attain first position in the university.
“He told me that his exams had gone very well and he was sure he would be one of the toppers,” said Shivangi.
Aditya’s parents, talking to The Indian Express over phone, said they were “very proud” of the result. Speaking at the prayer meeting, college principal John Varghese said the college had lost “four members of the family”.