A second-year Jawaharlal Nehru University student allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan inside a library room at the university, police said Friday. DCP (Southwest) Devender Arya identified the student as Rishi Joshua, who was pursuing MA in English.
According to police, he had emailed a suicide note to his professor before hanging himself. “In the note, he said ‘by the time you read this, I will be dead’. There are two-three other lines in the note, but they say the same thing,” Arya said.
Police claimed Joshua was depressed for some time and was seeking treatment.
Sources in the Centre for English Studies (CES) said Joshua had taken a zero semester in the last semester — a provision in JNU for students who need to take a break in their studies. If a student applies for zero semester, that semester is considered ‘zero’, and the student can continue his programme in the following semester. One primary reason why students apply for, and are granted, zero semester is for medical reasons.
Police were informed about the incident around 11.30 am by the warden of Mahi Mandavi hostel, where Joshua stayed. Police sent a team, which reached the School of Languages after contacting the caller, identified as the in-charge of the hostel.
According to sources, Joshua had scheduled an email to be sent to a senior faculty member of CES at 11 am. Besides informing the faculty that he had taken such a step, Joshua also apparently wrote to the professor, asking him to take care of his parents.
University officials said Joshua’s body was found inside a room in the basement of the library building. “The room was locked from inside; we knocked several times but got no response. We then saw the student’s body through a window,” Arya said.
The body was taken to Safdarjung Hospital, he said, adding that the student’s relatives have been informed and his cousin Mathew Vargese has reached the university. “He was undergoing some treatment, as per preliminary inquiry… No foul play is suspected,” the DCP said.
Some of Joshua’s classmates and friends, who did not wish to be named, said he had been suffering from depression for some time. A classmate said he looked “visibly upset” in the last week, while another friend said he had spoken to Joshua in March this year about “depression and writing” in the backdrop of a play on depression that they saw.
At his hostel too, students said he mostly stayed inside his room. “He didn’t venture out too much,” said a hosteller.
In a statement, JNU expressed its “deep condolences at the untimely demise of an MA student in one of the academic buildings of the university”. “His parents have been informed about the unfortunate incident,” it said.
Joshua’s relatives, who had gathered at the Safdarjung Hospital mortuary, refused to speak on the matter. “This is a very sensitive matter and we don’t want to comment on anything,” said a relative, who refused to identify herself.