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Loitam case gives hope to kin of N-E student who died in Chennai

As youth across the country demand justice for Richard Loitam,19,who died in his college hostel in Bangalore,another family,living not far from Loitam’s,seeks justice for their son who died in Chennai last year

Written by Esha Roy | Imphal | Published: May 8, 2012 12:35:17 am

As youth across the country demand justice for Richard Loitam,19,who died in his college hostel in Bangalore,another family,living not far from Loitam’s,seeks justice for their son who died in Chennai last year.

Okram Indramani,60,was happy when his son,Okram Laaba,secured admission at the Hindustan College of Arts and Sciences in Chennai. Two of Okram’s cousins were already studying in Chennai.

On June 23,2011 at 3:40 in the afternoon Indramani received a call. “I was told that Laaba had passed away. The police later told me that it was a suicide,which neither me nor my wife nor my nephew and niece,who had been in constant touch with Laaba,believed,’’ he says. After several unsuccessful attempts to get information on the status of the case at the Kelambakkam police station in Chennai,he has now approached the Manipur students union,which,he feels,has managed to make a difference in the Richard Loitam death case.

Laaba was a second-year BCA student staying at Philip hostel on the college premises. The FIR said that as per hostel warden K Balasubramanian’s statement,when he heard Laaba’s room-mate Ashwin calling out from the balcony,he rushed to Laaba’s room and Ashwin broke open the door. Upon entering the room they found Laaba on his bed with his head covered with a polythene bag. A towel was wrapped around his neck and a belt tightly wound around the towel to keep the bag in place.

The police was informed as was Laaba’s cousin Levin. Laaba was taken to a hospital,but declared dead on arrival,said the FIR.

His parents allege foul play. “Apart from the fact that he was not depressed there are certain discrepancies in the case. Even before the final post mortem,the police declared it a suicide. The post mortem report,which we got in November,said he died due to asphyxiation. When Levin rushed to the hostel and checked Laaba’s pulse,he was alive,though it was very weak. If the college authorities had rushed him to a hospital immediately,he would have survived,” says Indramani.

He says a strange incident has come to light now regarding Laaba’s death. “A friend of my son told me that Laaba talked to her at 11 am on the day of his death,and my son was to meet her and her parents at 2:30 that afternoon. At around that time she came to know from Facebook that Laaba had died. How is this possible if they found his body after 3 in the afternoon,as the FIR states?” he asks.

While his repeated pleas to the Tamil Nadu Police has yielded no results,Indramani feels that the movement demanding justice for Loitam may help him reopen Laaba’s case.

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