Three students of Al Qamar Nursing College, accused of ragging and forcing a first-year student, K.P. Aswathy, to consume toilet cleaner, were arrested by the Kalaburagi police and remanded in judicial custody on Friday night.

The three students — Lakshmi and Athira, third semester students, and Krishnapriya of final year — were formally arrested after lengthy questioning by a team of police officers.

Ms Aswathy, a Dalit student, was allegedly forced to consume toilet cleaner on May 9. After initial treatment in Kalaburagi, she returned to her native place in Kerala. She developed complications and was admitted to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital where she disclosed that she was ragged by her seniors.

‘Lapse by college’

Earlier, sources said five students, including the girls who admitted Aswathy initially to the Basaveshwar Teaching and General Hospital and stayed with her for three days in the hospital — and later in the hostel for another three days — were questioned. It was not immediately known what the students told the police. The police also questioned two doctors and nursing staff of the hospital.

Sources said the police recorded the statements of the college authorities, including principal Esther, who initially claimed there was no truth in the claims of ragging and that the victim had consumed the toilet cleaner due to “family problems.”

When contacted, Superintendent of Police N. Shashikumar said initial investigations revealed that there had been a lapse on the part of the college administration, which had kept the police in the dark about the incident.

Amendments to FIR

He said the Kalaburagi Police had added a few more charges to the original FIR registered by the Kozhikode Police. The additional charges included Section 116 of the Karnataka Education Act 1983, to replace the provisions of the Anti-Ragging Act of Kerala, Section 336 of the IPC against the college authorities and Section 176 of the IPC for failure to inform the police about the incident.

The Kozhikode police have included Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 346 of the IPC, and invoked the provisions of the SC and ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act against the five nursing students named in the FIR.

A nine-member police team from Kalaburagi reached Kozhikode on Friday to collect a statement from Ms Aswathy. The statement would be taken from her on Saturday as a few more senior officers were expected to join the squad. Deputy Superintendent of Police Jahnavi and two Circle Inspectors would be part of the team assigned to collect the statement and handle further investigations, sources said.

The Kerala State Commission for Women has written to the Women’s Commission of Karnataka, seeking its intervention in the incident. Commission chairperson K.C. Rosakutty pointed out in her letter that there had been serious neglect and laxity on the part of the Karnataka Police.

The Kerala SC & ST Commission has sought a detailed report. It has registered a case in connection with the incident.
Kalaburagi police question 5 students; Kerala women’s panel chief writes to Karnataka counterpart