KERALA

Rajani's family directs ire at politicians

The thatched house at Vellarada where Rajani, the engineering student who committed suicide, lived. Photo: S. Gopakumar

The thatched house at Vellarada where Rajani, the engineering student who committed suicide, lived. Photo: S. Gopakumar  

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 24. The smouldering funeral pyre and the pile of wreaths beside it are stark reminders of the tragedy which struck Sivanandan and his impoverished family.

A day after the cremation of Rajani, the engineering college student who committed suicide because she could not find the means to pay for her education, her family is seething with fury.

Their anger is directed at the politicians and people's representatives who failed to come to their aid in a time of crisis. Even as Rajani's suicide has sparked off a wave of violent protests all over the State, her relatives allege that she was the victim of political apathy.

Good student

After a day of frenzied activity, the Vellarada village in the suburbs of the capital was back to its sleepy self on Saturday evening. All along the route to Rajani's house, posters carrying her picture and denouncing the Government's education policy have been pasted on lampposts and walls. Mourners are still trickling into the two-room building with a tattered roof.

Her father, Sivanandan, quietly sobs as he recounts his beloved daughter's relentless efforts which helped her secure admission to the engineering college at Adoor. "She used to burn the midnight oil. Having cleared the Plus Two course with distinction, she had her sights set on the MBBS. She finally settled for engineering, as it would entail less financial burden on the family. Since we could not afford to send her to a coaching institute, she relied on used books procured from other students and cleared the entrance examination".

Five banks approached

Mr.Sivanandan said Rajani had approached at least five banks for an education loan. "All of them turned down her application. With just two cents of land and my meagre earnings as a manual labourer, we were not in a position to provide collateral security. I personally met the ward member and the MLA, Thampanoor Ravi, several times and requested their help. But all my efforts were in vain. This is all that remains of my daughter", he stutters, pointing to the pyre at his feet.

There is a commotion in the house and Rajani's mother is carried out by a couple of relatives. The shattered woman had fainted after two days of grieving. A taxi is summoned and she is rushed to hospital. Sivanandan seems to be taken aback but quickly regains his composure. "I left no stone unturned but our pleas for help fell on deaf ears. The panchayat, the Scheduled Castes Development Department, religious institutions and political organisations failed to come to our help. And now politicians are shedding crocodile tears in her name", he blurts.

Mary Matha offer

Having received an offer from the Mary Matha Engineering College at Vellarada to fund her engineering studies, Rajani left home on Wednesday to secure her TC from the Adoor engineering college. "At 5 p.m. on Thursday, our neighbours received a phone call asking us to rush to the General Hospital. There, we found the listless body of my daughter who jumped to her death from the Housing Board building", he sobs.

Rajani had reportedly stopped attending classes at college since August last year, as she could not cough up the hostel fees. The family had borrowed from various sources to pay for her admission and examination fees.

Nobody helped

Meanwhile, Sudhakaran, an employee at the Perumkadavila block SC Development office tries to explain that the Government had released Rs.1.14 lakhs to pay for Rajani's education. His suggestion that the issue should have been brought to the attention of the SC/ ST Welfare Minister touches a raw nerve in Sivanandan who bursts out. "If someone had come to our aid, my daughter would not have had to take her life. It is all right for politicians and Government officials to offer explanations. Nothing can compensate for the loss of our daughter who loved life".

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