Nearly two weeks after a student from Manipur died after allegedly beaten up by two of his hostel mates in Bangalore, protests were held in various parts of the country on Sunday demanding justice.
Loitam Richard, 19, from Manipur was found dead on his hostel bed under suspicious circumstances on the afternoon of April 18. He was an Architecture Engineering first year student of the Acharya NRV School of Architecture, Bangalore.
With the police not making any arrest in spite of the preliminary postmortem report showing multiple injuries on the body of the deceased, including head, scalp and other body parts, relatives, friends and well-wishers organized protest in Bangalore, Delhi, Gwalior, Imphal, Pune, Hyderabad and other cities on Sunday.
Over 1000 people from all walks of life joined the protest organized by volunteers of 'Justice for Loitam Richard Group' and Peoples' Solidarity Concerns at Town Hall, Bangalore.
The participants shouted slogans demanding justice for Loitam Richard. They also prayed for the departed soul and observed candlelight vigil.
Jagdish G Chandra, Convener, Peoples' Solidarity Concerns, Bangalore, said that the college should be held responsible for the homicide and the police should expose the truth.
"The justice for Loitam Richard is a fundamental issue for all citizens. We want a society where fear and violence is ended. Police authorities must do justice quickly and not falsify the case and shield the culprits. The college management should be held responsible for the homicide of Richard," said Jagdish G Chandra.
"India has a history of hushing up cases. We are worried with the way the police are handling the case," he added.
Abdelaziz Ndangiza from Congo, a student of Christ College, Bangalore, who participated in the protest, said that he came to fight for justice.
"Nobody deserves what Richard got. I'll stand for anyone who dies like that," said Abdelaziz.
"Is this the way we should be killed and send back home in a coffin? We want justice and we should take this up with the higher authorities," said Viko, Vice President of Naga Students' Union, Bangalore.
Angry over the police not taking any action on the case though the preliminary postmortem report showed multiple injuries on the body of the deceased, including head, scalp and other body parts, relatives, friends and well-wishers of the deceased around the country, especially people from Northeast recently started a campaign on Facebook seeking justice. The 'Justice For Loitam Richard' page has crossed 1.5 lakh members.
There were various contradicting reports over the death of Richard. While the police described the death as a result of a minor accident he had met with on April 16, some indicated that he got into a brawl with his seniors for a remote control while watching an Indian Premiere League (IPL) match on TV and they assaulted him that led to his death. There were also media reports that he died of drug overdose.
According to the report filed by the college hostel warden S Sudhakar with the Madanayakanahalli police, Loitam Richard was treated at Sapthagiri Hospital on April 16 after he had met with an accident. He reportedly quarrelled with his hostel mate Vishal Banerjee on the night of April 17 over changing TV channel while watching an IPL match. Another hostel mate Sayed Afzal Ali intervened and beat him up. He was found dead on his bed on the next day.
However, friends and relatives of the deceased alleged that he died of fatal injuries he got from his hostel mates. They claimed that the college authorities are trying to hide the case by spreading fabricated stories about the deceased.
Speaking to the IBTimes, Richard's uncle Bobby Loitam alleged that the college authorities were trying to cover up the case as it would hit the public image of their institution. The authorities were reluctant to bring out the facts involved in Richard's suspicious death, he said.