Intro: If a teenager and her friends had to take the extreme step of eating a poisonous fruit and ending their lives, clearly all wasn’t well. And there's more than just fact finding that investigating agencies and sports officials need to do.
The horrible incident of attempting suicide by four young female athletes took place in the Water Sports Centre of Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Punnamada of Alappuzha District, Kerala. As reported, one of the 15 year old athletes died early and the other three were hospitalised in critical condition. Late Aparna alias Shilpa was the National Junior Silver Medal winner in rowing. All the four athletic students decided to put an end to their promising lives by consuming othalanga fruit of the Suicide Tree, Cerbera odollam being its botanical name.
All the three girls had given their statements to the magistrate. They had raised allegations against senior students and the coaches. It is hinted towards the harassments by their seniors. Crime Branch, the investigation agency, says, the alleged people will be interrogated. Ajith kumar, Police IG, is in charge of the investigation. Meanwhile, Kerala State Human Rights Commission (HRC) has registered a case in this regard. Member R Natarajan has asked for a report from S Sreejith IPS, Chief Investigation Officer and Police IG.
Until recently SAI centre in Punnamada was non controversial. It groomed several national international water sports athletes. Controversies regarding team selection had come up just before the last national games. Complaints arose about dropping the deserving ones and with drawing a particular coach from the responsibility of coaching the Kerala athletes. Despite this, Kerala team got 32 medals in kanoing, kayaki and rowing. Twenty one boys and 46 girls participated in the competitions.
There are allegations that authorities do not take initiative to solve the problems. SAI Director General Injethi Sreenivas said, enquiry would be done. SAI has already given a report to the Union Sports Minister Sarbandala Sonowal. DG visited Aparna’s house and handed over Rs 5 lakhs to the parents. Also her mother will get job.
Even though there were earlier reports that SAI’s DG had told about the acute mental torture the students suffered from, now it is learned that SAI DG’s report to the minister reads that the prima facie enquiry failed to establish any foul play in the suicide attempts. It rules out any ragging and torture by the senior girls. It is after DG’s talk with several senior hostelites. It is reported that DG’s report discussed the circumstances led to the incident. It goes like this: Four girls allegedly drank beer during a marriage party. Some seniors advised them not to do it. When the warden came to hear it, she scolded them and told that she would inform their parents. The report says that warden was trying to guide them in proper direction. But the girls were afraid of an expulsion from the centre. Since they are from financially hard-pressed family backgrounds they were afraid of going back home. Report also says that warden and coaches in Alappuzha are already warned to be careful while dealing with junior athletes, especially girl. SAI plans to establish psychological aid and counseling facilities to the trainees.
Kerala State Committee of Kreeda Bharathi, a Sangh Parivar organisation for promoting sports and games, has demanded strict actions against the trainers in view of the tragic incident in the SAI centre. What could have gone so unbearably wrong that the talented and young athletes had to end their lives after she faced harassment at the SAI facility where they were a trainee? It is reported that all the four girls had given statements to the magistrate as soon as they were taken to the hospital. They had raised allegations against senior students and the coaches. It is believed they were all harassed. Crime Branch, the investigation agency, says the alleged people will be interrogated. T Satisan