The family of the JNU student who was found dead inside room number 171 of Brahmaputra hostel late Tuesday night said he could not have committed suicide, but added that they will rely on police investigations and the autopsy report.
The body of J R Philemon Chiru, 35, who was pursuing PhD in West Asian studies, was found after other hostel inmates complained of a foul smell coming from his room. Police said they recovered a bottle of alcohol from inside his room and are looking into alcohol overdose as a possible reason for the death.
Chiru’s younger sister, Ziar Legasi, said she was informed about the incident on Tuesday night by one of his friends. “My brother could not have committed suicide. I don’t know what happened to him. But I want a proper probe into the case. As of now, I will rely on police investigations and the autopsy report,” said Legasi, who hails from Manipur.
She visited JNU on Wednesday to participate in condolence meetings for Chiru, held by the administration and the students. “The body was officially handed over to her and the university has decided to contribute a significant amount of money to the expenditure incurred to take the body back home,” JNU Rector Chintamani Mahapatra said.
JNU vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar tweeted, “J Raja P Chiru, a JNU student is no more with us. The administration expresses its deepest condolence to his family.”
Earlier in the day, an ABVP delegation met university officials demanding that there be a thorough probe into the matter and that the university pay the full expenditure of flying his body back home.
Chiru was staying in the hostel for four years and had recently taken an extension to complete his thesis on West Asian countries. “He was involved with his research work. Once he told me that he has to submit it as soon as possible and he was working on it. His death has shocked us,” said a student who stays in the hostel.
Chiru has contributed to a book called Persian Gulf 2014, published by Sage publications and edited by his professor P R Kumaraswamy.
Rajesh, his childhood friend, said, “He was very good in studies and also a good soccer player. He graduated from Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College and later joined JNU. He was the eldest of his siblings.” Chiru’s father is a retired government teacher. His other siblings stay in Manipur.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (south) Ishwar Singh said, “The body has been handed over to his family. There were no external injury marks on it. It is suspected he died of overdose. We are conducting an inquest proceeding. The cause will be known after the post-mortem.”