Two weeks after a nursing student allegedly jumped into death from the ninth floor of a private hospital here, social media in Kerala is witnessing an unprecedented outrage demanding justice for the girl.
Roji Roy, 19, jumped from the tenth floor of Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS), a leading private hospital in the Kerala capital on November 6. She was a second year student at the nursing school run by the KIMS.
On that day, Roy was summoned by the nursing college authorities to the hospital complex to give an explanation about a complaint that she had allegedly ragged junior students.That morning she appeared herself before the inquiry panel, but refuted the allegations.
As the panel, comprising the hostel warden, college principal and vice-principal wanted her to give her explanation in writing, she went out to prepare the same in the library. Around noon that day, she jumped from the ninth floor of the hospital. A seriously injured Roy was declared dead at 6 pm.
Roy is the elder daughter of George Roy and Sajitha, both differently abled. She has a younger brother. Many leading Malayalam dailies did not even mention KIMS name in their story. They blacked out the victim’s family version. Sources at a prominent TV news channel said they could not run a story on Roy’s family version. “ We ran their story in a single bulletin. There was immense pressure on us not to repeat that news,’’ sources said.
As the mysterious death was fading into oblivion, a group “Justice of Roji Roy’’ emerged on Facebook. Two weeks on, the group has grown into a community of 46,456 persons . As the protest in the social media gathers momentum, various forms of agitations are being reported from across the world, particularly from the nursing community. On Friday, CPI (M) student wing SFI took out a protest march in Thiruvananthapuram demanding impartial probe into the incident. Nursing students and nurses across the country have observed protest in these days.
“We are submitting before the social media this girl named Roji Roy, who was abandoned by the media under the duress from the corporate forces. The responsibility to become the voice of the deaf and dumb parents, who want justice for their daughter, rests with each one of you. Let us hope this online agitation would bring in justice for Roji Roy,” says the Facebook page.
The home page of the “Justice for Roji Roy says, “this community is against the criminal silence of the media, which should have brought out the truth….It is against those forces that put out the right of woman to live.’’
Hundreds of members in the community had made Roy’s photo as their profile picture. They have urged the members to boycott the Kerala newspaper pages or unlike stories in their online editions. Earlier this week, they observed black day in cyber world. As another means of protest, they ensured that the comments in the Malayalam newspapers’ facebook pages are strictly about Roji Roy, whatever be the subject of news report.
Roy’s cousin brother Siby Raj said being the daughter of differently able parents, Roy had come through severe hardships in life. “She would not commit suicide. Someone harassed her in a manner forcing her to take the extreme step.’’
Raj said Roy had telephoned her close relatives to reach the hospital after the management wanted to do so in connection with the ragging complaint. She had called her uncle at 10 am before she appeared before the inquiry panel. What happened in the next two hours is mysterious, he said.
He said a junior student had complained that Roy had ridiculed her surname. “Why the college authorities took it seriously. We doubt that a written complaint was prepared after the girl jumped from the building. She was summoned by the inquiry panel a before her internal examination, which was cruel,” said Raj.
He said the girl was almost dead after she fell from the ninth floor of the building at noon. “Her family members who reached the hospital by 2 pm were not even allowed inside the ward she was admitted to. Only at 6 pm, they confirmed the death,” he added.
KIMS executive director E M Najeeb said the nursing college was bound to act on the ragging complaint as per the supreme court directive. “We never expected that she would jump from the building after going out to prepare the explanation that she did not rag anyone,’’ said Najeeb.
He said the complainant’s parents wanted the management probe into the incident saying their daughter’s mental condition was bad after ragging. “In such a situation we have to act on a complaint. At the same time, we did not threaten hear about any case. There was no harassment on the part of the management or nursing college. We are ready to face any probe.’’
The victim’s family sources said none from the hospital or nursing college attended her funeral. Even a few friends who turned up were barred from speaking to the family.
Najeeb said they kept away from the funeral after police advised to do so. “Since there was a tense situation, our presence would have worsened the scenario. Hence, we kept away.’’
The family sources said they were pained at the approach of the local newspapers. “One leading daily wrongly gave funeral date even after collecting all details from our house in Kollam. It created confusion among relatives, many of them could not attend the funeral,’’ said Siby Raj.
Thiruvananthapuram deputy police commissioner Ajitha Beegam said a clear picture on the issue would emerge in three or four days. “We are recording the statements of various persons in the hospital and nursing college. At present, there is a case for unnatural death. We are looking into whether anyone abetted her suicide. If there is substance in this regard, the case would be converted into a case for abetting suicide.’’
The DCP said they have noticed some discrepancies in the statements about the timing of the internal inquiry and complaint about ragging. “Everything is being scrutinized. Right now, I cannot confirm whether there would be a case for abetting suicide. We are also looking into the genuineness of the ragging complaint and whether there was a written complaint before the internal probe panel when the girl was summoned before it.’’
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