Tamil Nadu: Three suicides over fees but no rooms, teachers in medical college

Suicides: Villupuram range DIG Anisa Husain said a team headed by the district SP had started a probe.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Villupuram | Updated: January 25, 2016 11:46 pm
tamil nadu suicide, tamil nadu girls suicide, TN girls suicide, SVS Yoga Medical College, SVS Yoga Medical College suicide, tamil nadu news, india news, latest news, chennai news What the girls left behind, near the well in Kallakurichi where their bodies were found on Saturday. (Express Photo by Arun Janardhanan)

As a large number of parents and students thronged the Villupuram hospital, demanding action against the management of a private medical college where three girl students committed suicide on Saturday, the contents of their suicide note continued to evoke shock and anger.

On Sunday, District Collector M Lakshmy sealed the college and hostel, where the students stayed, following protests against the owners, Vasuki Subramanian and her husband S Subramanian, the principal.

With police still hunting for the duo who ran the SVS Yoga Medical College at Kallakurichi near Villupuram, about 170 km from Chennai, where the bodies of the three students were recovered from a well, The Indian Express visited the institution to piece together disturbing details. Of a medical college without classrooms, laboratories and teachers for around 100 students, who were charged at least Rs 5 lakh each in fees alone — and with not a single placement conducted on campus since the beginning in 2008.

Watch video | Villupuram Student Suicides: A Mother Reacts

The story starts at the entrance to the college, about 10 km from Kallakurichi, where the compound starts without walls and with banners erected on wooden stands acting as signboards.

tn-suicide-poster A banner erected at the entrance of the medical college. Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan

Read: They left their homes to attend college on Friday, never to return

At the entrance is the students’ mess, a single-storey structure with 24 cabins, all dust-covered. Right next to the building is a kitchen, under a thatched roof, where senior students said they prepared food for juniors as there were no cooks employed.

T Udayashree, a classmate of three who committed suicide, said they were given “the most substandard food items” to cook. “They (the management) used to ask us to make the food as spicy as possible to reduce intake. We were also made to clean toilets, the campus and conduct repair work as it was part of ‘Karma Yoga’ in yoga studies,” she said.

A few metres inside the campus stands the main three-storey building and an annexe with at least six rooms sporting name-boards reading “Operation Theatre”, “Outpatient Room”, etc. Students said the boys were made to stay in the “OP” while girl students were accommodated in the Inpatient Ward. Another 10 boys were put up at the “Dialysis Unit” on the ground flood of the main building — sources said the unit was illegal because the college did not have permission to offer allopathy treatment.

The inpatient ward where girl students sheltered in the night. Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan The inpatient ward where girl students sheltered in the night. Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan

“As part of our Bachelors in Naturopathy and Yoga Sciences, we were also asked to build the entire laboratory. We carried concrete slabs to build it,” said Arul Murugan, another classmate.

While dialysis units and operation theatres functioned in the naturopathy hospital, without a single allopathy doctor or nurse on its rolls, students said they never had teachers for subjects such as anatomy or physiology or naturopathy.

“They finished our anatomy classes in one week and physiology in one month using two interns as teachers who were forced to work here after the management denied them their original certificates. My senior batch started with about 100 students and was down to some 10 towards the end of that year,” said Murugan.

Officials and students confirmed that many were referred to this college by the state government following entrance tests and counselling.

“When the government’s fee for the courses was around Rs 30,000-Rs 55,000 per year, the management charged Rs 95,000-Rs 1.5 lakh from students. They were forced to pay the fee for two or three years in advance for the five-year programme,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.

The three girls claimed in their suicide note that “we have still not passed our 2nd year. But they have extracted 6 lakhs fee from us”.

However, students said Sudhakar Verma, the son of the chairman, obtained “unusually high marks”. “When the entire class failed in the anatomy exam, he alone had high marks in the university exam,” said a student.

A former student, who now works for the Tamil Nadu government, alleged that he was asked to pay Rs 3 lakh to get a Transfer Certificate when he chose to discontinue. “One of my seniors had to pay Rs 1 lakh more to get his original certificate and leave the college,” he said.

The kitchen, next to the mess, where food was prepared. There were two suicide attempts in September and October before Villupuram Collectorate citing these hardships. Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan The kitchen, next to the mess, where food was prepared. There were two suicide attempts in September and October before Villupuram Collectorate citing these hardships. Express Photo/Arun Janardhanan

And all this, said students, despite routine inspections by officials of the Dr MGR Medical University that led to the college’s affiliation being renewed while complaints from students were ignored.

Sources said that even after the students staged a protest in September and October against the management at the Villupuram Collectorate, following which a detailed report was sent to the government, Subramanian “managed to settle” the cases in Chennai.

When contacted, Jancy Charles, former registrar of Dr MGR Medical University, said she never knew that situation was “this bad”. “I myself conducted multiple probes but none of the reports were against the college,” she said.

These probes, she said, included inspections by university staff, senior doctors from alternative medicine and even government officials, following complaints of atrocities against SC/ST students. Charles refuted charges of corruption but did not answer queries about how the inspections failed to unearth the truth.

She said those who were sent for inspections were all senior doctors, experts and officials and the complaints they received were all “petty” in nature.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor until last month, Shantha Ram, was not available for comment. The current V-C, S Geethalakshmi, who took charge about 10 days ago, said the university has “moved the papers to cancel the affiliation” of the college.

J Radhakrishnan, state health secretary, said he is not authorised to comment on the affairs of the university. He said he was not aware of any petitions pending against the college. S Kesavan, a parent of one of the students, said they had sent several petitions to the Chief Minister’s Cell too, but received no reply.

Back at the Villupuram hospital, the body of one of the girls, Saranya from Kanchipuram, was accepted by her parents after postmortem on Sunday night.

When contacted, Villupuram SP K S Narendran Nayar said, “We had taken five people in custody, including the son of Subramanian. But arrests have not been recorded. Subramanian is still hiding at a location in Chennai, she may be arrested tonight,” he said.

Tamil Arasan, the father of Monisha, alleged that police were protecting the owner “the same way the state health department helped the bogus college since 2008”.

“We will not allow a postmortem in Villupuram medical college as we don’t trust anyone here. We have demanded that the bodies be taken to Chennai for postmortem, to be conducted on camera and by a team of doctors and a retired judge. We will not surrender unless they seal the college and arrest Subramanian and officials of the Dr MGR Medical University,” said Arasan, an employee of Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB).

SP Nayar, however, told The Indian Express: “They may have many such demands but we cannot agree to them. We will go by the usual procedure.”

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  1. R
    Rakesh
    Jan 25, 2016 at 4:13 am
    Where are the so called sympathisers now? where is Pappu, where is Kujliwala etc... they don't know this story. Can this Someone from Indian Express go to Pappu and Kujliwala and ask why they are not visiting Chennai...
    Reply
    1. P
      PCKULKARNI
      Jan 25, 2016 at 9:04 am
      Any Indian is free to go to any place. At least till now India is a democracy.
      Reply
      1. P
        PCKULKARNI
        Jan 25, 2016 at 9:02 am
        Sanghis cannot even dare to go to Hyderabad. But why are they not visiting this place?
        Reply
        1. R
          Romik
          Jan 27, 2016 at 7:10 pm
          No comments from Kejri and Rahul? No political benefit here ,eh?
          Reply
          1. T
            TIHAEwale
            Jan 25, 2016 at 8:22 am
            Action should be initiated including dismissal and arrest against all those who inspected the college during past three inspections and did not make any adverse remark about the status of conditions of the college, any thing else means corruption well entrenched
            Reply
            1. A
              Archpagan
              Jan 25, 2016 at 11:06 am
              Jaya should explain.
              Reply
              1. R
                Rajesh
                Jan 25, 2016 at 6:16 am
                But since it cant be blame on BJP in any way, Khujliwala who usually barks for everything is silent, Rahul will not be visiting and pressutes have also buried it in the backpages.
                Reply
                1. C
                  Caamano
                  Jan 25, 2016 at 4:06 am
                  Obviously the dead students are not schedule caste, Muslim, Christian. So no tears for the dead, no visit by Keju ,Pappu and others.
                  Reply
                  1. V
                    Vikramaditya
                    Jan 25, 2016 at 5:01 am
                    what is the name of College?
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      Krishna Dubey
                      Jan 26, 2016 at 5:12 am
                      kejriwal ji please come forward and do some politics on this serious matter like rohit case
                      Reply
                      1. R
                        rameshnk
                        Jan 25, 2016 at 4:35 am
                        Rahul.Kejri,D.Raja, darek OBrein and company have another trip lined up. Another fresh jibe attack on PM Modi. Modi is responsible. He should resign. What about Selfie etc. etc. But I am sure none of them will ever visit or make a mention. Because for the simple reason that these girls are not Dalit(may be);They are not minority. Then there is nothing in it for these great sicular saviours of the nation.
                        Reply
                        1. R
                          rameshnk
                          Jan 25, 2016 at 4:40 am
                          You should first ask the question to your friends- Rahul,Kejri,Darek.What business they had in UOH.
                          Reply
                          1. R
                            rameshnk
                            Jan 25, 2016 at 4:39 am
                            You will not surprised to know that many of such private educational insutions belong to Congis in states such as Maharashtra,AP, TN,Karnataka and elsewhere. It is not hat such incidences are happening for the first time. Many are reported and many are suppressed. But where are the great siculars : Rahul,Kejri,Raja,Darek , Tyagi and compay.???
                            Reply
                            1. V
                              Vikas Goswami
                              Jan 25, 2016 at 9:13 am
                              Where are Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Ghandi and Sitaram Yachuri who raced to Hyderabad, but totally blind to this suicide of 3 girls. Perhaps, these poor girls does not belong to Vote Bank community?
                              Reply
                              1. G
                                Gowrishankar
                                Jan 26, 2016 at 12:51 am
                                The MGR university which approved the college in the initial stage should be questioned first to know the truth as to which politician is behind this college
                                Reply
                                1. N
                                  NArayan
                                  Jan 25, 2016 at 12:36 pm
                                  No fuss on 3 students commiting suicide. While the suicide of HCU student went viral. He is even referred to as Hero and leader.
                                  Reply
                                  1. N
                                    NArayan
                                    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:36 pm
                                    SP Nayar, however, told The Indian Express: “They may have many such demands but we cannot agree to them. We will go by the usual procedure.” But IE didnt ask him why their demands cannot be met.
                                    Reply
                                    1. K
                                      kamath Ramesh
                                      Jan 25, 2016 at 8:46 am
                                      No one can understand why students have to take their own life. Is dying much easier than fighting for a cause. Or our internal check systems and media only care after the death and do not give much heed before that. It is evident that media made the issue on the letter ministry wrote on a complaint. Every one blamed the ministry for taking right action on the complaint. If ministry had not initiated the action and ABVP student had died thereafter still media would have blamed ministry for its inaction despite the complaint. Any way media is in an unenviable position as it can raise anything or ignore anything and is not accountable in anyway. We have seen silly issues are raged week after week but no mention of many important issues. Alternatively one tends to think is the situation responsible for the deaths or the students mind set, weak mental balance, their misinformation, misguidance from peers etc are responsible for this. Anyway nobody wants to bring the truth out and before that issue is politicized and take the course in wrong way.
                                      Reply
                                      1. K
                                        Karan Kadam
                                        Jan 29, 2016 at 8:15 am
                                        U have got Chance again , Vote for BJP in upcoming TN and Kerala Elections ?????
                                        Reply
                                        1. M
                                          Mayank
                                          Jan 25, 2016 at 2:12 am
                                          The UGC and the Medical Council of India should be charged with Criminal Negligence for the infrastructure situation in this college.
                                          Reply
                                          1. M
                                            mimi sur
                                            Jan 25, 2016 at 5:37 am
                                            Are any politicians going there ? They were also poor students and that to ladies . Where are the Roman Prince of Rahul, Mafflarwala Kejri , Bengali Bahu Mamta and "Jai mim" part leader Owasi ? Three students committed suicide, not one . Where are the award-wapsi jamat ?
                                            Reply
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