Congress MLA Bharat Singh Kundanpur has targeted his own government and said the coaching institutes in Kota are politically influenced and are therefore spared of any police action when students are driven to end their lives.
His remarks came days after three students preparing for competitive exams, in Kota, were found dead on December 12, in two separate incidents within 12 hours.
Kundanpur, in his letter to the Kota district collector on December 13, has demanded an investigation into the role of coaching institutes in the deaths.
Kundanpur, the ruling party MLA from Sangod (Kota), said that one of the reasons for students to end their lives is that in the race for good results, coaching institutes put immense pressure on them.
In the letter, he said that “after the incident, the police investigated and filed a final report but have not held the coaching institute responsible for such a step.” Without naming the coaching institute, he said that the political influence of the coaching institute is very strong. A large number of officials seek postings in Kota just for this reason, he wrote.
“My suggestion is that the police should investigate the role of the coaching institute in the deaths and register an FIR against them,” the former Minister in Ashok Gehlot's government said.
He said that Kota is known all over the country for coaching and a large number of boys and girls come here from all the States.
“This city has become a coaching hub and providing coaching has become a profitable business. This has also become a reason for the intense pressure on the students. Coaching institutes are in the race to provide good results,” he said.
Ankush Anand (18), a NEET aspirant and resident of Bihar's Supaul district, and Ujjwal Kumar (17), a JEE aspirant from Gaya district, were found dead in their respective rooms of their paying guest accommodation early Monday morning.
“The third victim, Pranav Verma (17), a NEET aspirant from Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district, allegedly was found dead in his hostel late Sunday night,” police said.
Initial inquiry revealed that Anand and Kumar were irregular in attending their coaching classes for quite a long time and were lagging behind in studies and that was likely to have driven them to take the extreme step.
On the other hand, the district administration has now given directions to coaching institutes to ensure that they employ a psychologist and also guide students on career options other than engineering (JEE) and NEET (medical).
District Collector O. P. Bunkar and Kota range IG Prashan Kumar Khamesra jointly held a meeting with stakeholders from various coaching institutes on Tuesday.
Kota DM said directions were given to ensure the presence of psychologists at coaching institutes and that there should be a facility for providing recordings of the lessons so that the students can listen to the missing lectures.
"Directions were also issued to coaching institutes to provide career guidance on alternative options other than IITs and NEET," the DM said.
An official said in Jaipur that Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had approved a guideline last month for the purpose of providing mental support and security to the students studying/residing in the coaching institutes run in the State. The guidelines are aimed at ensuring a stress-free and safe environment for students.
“As per the guidelines, students studying in coaching institutes will be told about the career options available in case of not passing the entrance examinations of IITs and medical institutes. Apart from this, provision has been made for easy exit policy and fee refund in case of leaving the institute,” the official said.
Also, a complaint portal will be created under the guidelines. Provision for maintaining data on all types of movement in residential coaching institutes is also included in the guidelines. Arrangements have been made in the guidelines to prevent any kind of false propaganda by the coaching institutes.
The guidelines also have the provision of a State-level committee to ensure their proper implementation by the coaching institutes. It includes senior officers of all related Departments, including Higher Education, School Education, Medical Education and Home Department.
Apart from this, under the guidelines, District-Level Coaching Institute Monitoring Committee has to be formed in each district, which includes officials of various Departments as well as representatives including parents, coaching institutions, NGOs and psychologists and motivational speakers and additional district collectors of the district.
More than two lakh students from across the country are currently taking coaching for entrance exams in medical and engineering colleges at various institutes in Kota and living in around 3,500 hostels and PGs.
Those who require assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts may contact Sanjivini, Society for Mental Health suicide prevention helpline 011-4076 9002 (10 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., Monday-Saturday).