'Justice For Loitam Richard', a social media campaign seeking justice for a student from Manipur, who died on April 17 after allegedly beaten up by two of his hostel mates in Bangalore, has gone viral with over 1 lakh people joining the campaign.
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 around the country, especially people from Northeast started a campaign on Facebook seeking justice. 1.4 lakh people have joined the 'Justice For Loitam Richard' campaign at the time of filing this story.
Angry over the police not taking any action on the case even after 12 days since the incident happened, people from Manipur and Northeastern states are organizing massive nation-wide rally on Sunday. Rally will be organized in Bangalore, Delhi, Imphal, Guwahati, Pune, Hyderabad and other Indian cities to demand justice for Loitam Richard.
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.
They also said that it was the college doctor who informed the parents of their son's death and not the college authorities. Moreover, his dead body was taken to a hospital by the college, though the police should have been called in for investigation as it was an unnatural death.
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.
"They (college officials) are trying to cover up something. There are eyewitness who said that Richard was assaulted by one student named Syed Afjal Ali in the hostel premises. However, the authorities didn't look into the issue and see what happen to our boy after that," he said.
Vasundhara Potsangbam, a Civil Engineering student studying in the same college and a close friend of Richard, refuted the speculations that his friend died of drugs overdose.
"In any chance Richard was a drug addict, his roommates would have surely been aware of it and would have informed to the warden regarding his 'drug abuse'. But, no such complaints were made," Potsangbam said.
"I didn't witness the fight or I don't know the reason for the fight, either, as I was out of the hostel. But one thing is for sure that it was a 'murder', he was beaten to death," he added.
Bobby Loitam said that the police officials informed him that any arrest can be made only after receiving the final postmortem report as there are speculations over the timing of Richard's death.
"The police officials said that they would make arrest(s) once the date of Richard's death is confirmed," he said.