Hundreds of students from the northeast staged a demonstration here on Sunday against what they argued was a deliberate attempt to cover up the April 17 death of 19-year-old Manipuri student Richard Loitham.
Most of the agitators turned up in response to a facebook page created by his family and friends where the incongruities of the case had been documented.
They claimed that he was beaten to death by two of his college mates and was a victim of racial profiling. His body was found by his roommate in room 225 the next afternoon. But the police maintain that the boy died of injuries he suffered in a road accident a few days earlier. They have registered a case of unnatural death.
Richard was a student of the Acharya's NRV School of Architecture (ASArch) on the outskirts of the city. The college initially tried to dismiss the death, claiming that Richard was a drug addict. But the claim has not been substantiated by the post-mortem report.
Documents show that Richard was treated as an outpatient at a private hospital for wounds he suffered in an April 15 road accident, which the police claim caused his death. But the hospital's records show that he suffered only superficial injuries.
The police records show that three students, as well as the hostel warden, gave statements that he was beaten up by two boys on the night of his death. Photographs show him bleeding from the mouth and nose. He also had bruises and contusions all over his body. And the post-mortem report says he died of a cerebral haemorrhage.
“Why then did the police not file an assault case? Why were his assailants not taken into custody,” asked Monika Khangembam, who led the agitators.
“How can a boy die with one punch?” said Superintendent of Police (Bangalore Rural) D. Prakash.
Said Richard's friend Vadsundara Potsangban (20): “How do the police know if Richard was hit once or ten times?”
Speaking to The Hindu from Imphal, Richard's uncle Bobby Loitham said, “Richard was beaten in room 111. The room's doorknob is broken. There are dents on the metal blinds of a window. These things have not been investigated.”
He said the college doctor certified him dead in the hostel itself. Yet, his body was shifted in an ambulance to a private hospital. “Why were the police not informed immediately? The police were informed only late in the night on April 18,” said Mr. Loitham.
He also claimed that Richard was very unhappy in the hostel and was pleading with his parents to shift him out. The college management refused to react when TheHindu visited the campus.