India

Indian bishops allege conspiracy against Church-run institutions

Amal Jyothi College in Kanjirappilly diocese witnessed violent protests after the suicide of a 20-year-old female student

UCA News reporter

Updated: June 07, 2023 11:08 AM GMT

A priest listens to students at the open house session in Amal Jyothi College in Kanjirappilly diocese in the southern Indian state of Kerala, in November 2022. (Photo: ajce.in)

Bishops in a southern Indian state have alleged conspiracy against Church-run education institutions following violent protests in a prestigious diocesan college two days after a female student committed suicide.

Sradha Satheesh, a second-year food technology student at Amal Jyothi College of Engineering in Kanjirappilly diocese in Kottayam district in southern Kerala state, committed suicide on June 2 by hanging herself from the ceiling fan inside the hostel. The 20-year-old student is reported to have failed several subjects in the annual exams.

Two days later, the premium college, started in 2001, witnessed violent protests by students demanding action against the management and staff. Since then, the management has shut down the institution indefinitely.

The protest in the college is part of a well-planned conspiracy to target Christian education institutions, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC), a regional body, said in a statement on June 6.

Cardinal Cleemis, head of the Eastern rite Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, asked the communist-led provincial government to ensure protection of Christian institutions urgently to avoid further damage.

The protest in the college, one of the top and most sought-after engineering colleges in the state, saw participation by members of the Students' Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the ruling Communist party.

The cardinal said the management will cooperate with any fair investigation into the death of the female student.

Father Boby Alex Mannamplackal, vicar general of Kanjirapally diocese, expressed grief and sorrow over her death.

Father Mannamplackal in a video message though dismissed foul play in her death, asserting that when we found her hanging from the ceiling fan she was immediately taken to a nearby private hospital.

Simultaneously, the priest said, We informed the police and her family members.

We have sought a fair probe into the circumstances that forced her to take such an extreme step, Father Mannamplackal noted.

Sradha Satheesh returned to the hostel on June 1 after the annual holidays. On the same day, her results were declared, the priest said.

Later, when her companions went for dinner, she stayed in the room and when they came back, they found the room locked from inside and later found her body hanging, the priest added.

The priest questioned the targeted attack on the institution with the active participation of SFI.

It is not the first time Christian institutions in the state have been targeted, Father Jacob G Palakkappilly told UCA News on June 7.

Some vested interests, the priest said, are behind this well-orchestrated protest.

Though Christians make up 18 percent of the state's 33 million people, they manage more than 5,000 state-funded schools and higher education institutions in Kerala.

Amal Jyoti College of Engineering is one of the premier institutions in the state.

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