20-year-old student from Bengal found dead in Rajasthan’s coaching hub of Kota

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A 20-year-old student from West Bengal preparing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to undergraduate medical courses was found dead in Rajasthan’s coaching hub of Kota late on Monday, police said.

Rajesh Pathak, a local police officer, said the student’s landlord informed them when the 20-year-old did not respond to several knocks. “Police broke open the door and found the student hanging from the ceiling fan.” He said police were told the student locked herself up in her room in the afternoon. “No suicide note has been found yet. Her friends and the coaching faculties also did not report any behavioural change. We will be able to search the room after her parents reach the city. The body has been sent to the district medical college hospital for an autopsy. Further investigation is underway,” Pathak said.

Police said 26 students have died by suicide in Kota this year. The number is the highest since 2015.

Kota is the centre of India’s test-preparation business estimated to be worth 10,000 crores annually. Students from around the country arrive in Kota after completing class X. Some students find the grind stressful, especially because they are away from their families.

On September 19, a 16-year-old student from Uttar Pradesh died by consuming poison while another from Jharkhand died on September 13. Two other NEET students from Bihar and Maharashtra also died by suicide on August 27 within six hours after appearing for their weekly test.

Considering a surge in such cases, the Rajasthan government on September 28 notified guidelines including a mandatory screening test, the alphabetical sorting of students into sections instead of a ranking-based one, etc to prevent deaths by suicide.

The guidelines mandated the creation of monitoring centres in Kota and Sikar and a portal for “all relevant data studying in coaching institutes”. They prescribe legal action against faculty of coaching institutes if they violate any of the regulations. The guidelines were based on the recommendations of a 15-member committee set up on August 19 following a spate of deaths by suicide.