“Bhaiya mat maaro” were perhaps the last words of Richard Loitam – a 19 year Meitei Hindu 1st year student of architecture at Acharya NRV Institute of Architecture, Bengaluru on April 17. He had come to Bengaluru with the dream of becoming an architect but died instead after being attacked by two of his seniors – Vishal Banerjee and Syed Afzal Ali – both from Jharkhand, in his college hostel on that fateful day. The two seniors had attacked Richard Loitam following an argument over watching an IPL match in the college hostel.
As per the information gathered from the fellow students who were present at the time of brawl, Loitam’s head was forcibly pushed against the window rods of hall. His head and other sensitive parts of his body bore marks of severe assaults with some blunt object and was bleeding profusely from mouth and nose. When the door of his room did not open next day i.e. April 18 till noon and he was not responding to any loud call, he was found dead when his door was break-opened. Richard Loitam was a cheerful and obedient son of his doctor parents in Imphal, Manipur. He was an avid footballer, a music lover, cordial, sincere and bright student.
Instead of showing a human sympathy to the innocent victim student and his wailing parents and family members, the police and management concocted the story of Loitam being a drug addict who met with an accident because of which his death occurred. Even on the lapse of 21 days of filing this report on May 10, 2012, the culprits – Vishal Banerjee and Syed Afjal Ali are still not arrested and are in the hostel under police protection. They are neither rusticated nor punished in any manner even though a case of murder has been lodged in the police station under section 302 and 306 of CrPC. They are also attending regular classes.
On hearing the news of death of Richard Loitam, the team of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) under the leadership of Ningombam Sanjeev Kumar – a resident of Imphal (Manipur) and a research scholar PhD student in Management in Bangalore University and is also a national executive member of ABVP, visited the spot, took the stock of situation, met the College Principal, warden and all other concerned faculty member and employees and submitted a memorandum to Principal expressing the anguish over the inaction of police and college authorities and instead spreading over the mischievous propaganda against the dead – Richard Loitam. ABVP organised protest rally and submitted a similar memorandum to Shri R Ashok, Home Minister of Karnataka Government as well, but in vain.
Back home, the student bodies in Manipur and other States of North-East Region are continuously agitating demanding justice from State Government of Karnataka and Union Government. The print and electronic media have given large coverage to the incident. The agitators clearly say if the victim was from any other State out of North-East and the culprits/murderers were from North-East Region, could the law enforcing agencies under the control of Karnataka Government and Union Government remain as inactive as they are in this case? Such step-motherly behaviour of Delhi and Bengaluru adds to already existing segregation and disenchantments in the minds of people of NE region. The anti-national forces most active in Manipur and other NE States add fuel to the fire. To extinguish the fire of discontent and discrimination, the concerned Governments of Karnataka and Delhi must act decisively to do justice to the victim and his parents to restore the confidence.