Home Stories

Kota Suicides | Families Grapple as Suicides Mount

Kota Suicides | Unmasking Kota's Crisis: A Deep Dive into Discrimination, Pressures, and the Tragic Consequences in India's Coaching Capital.

By Saksham Agrawal
New Update

Kota Suicides | Kota, often referred to as India's Coaching Capital, situated in the state of Rajasthan, is grappling with an alarming rise in student suicides. In this year alone, the city has mourned the death of nearly two dozen young aspirants. Known for its competitive exam coaching for IIT-JEE and NEET, Kota's burgeoning reputation is now shadowed by the anguish of both students and their families.

In a poignant conversation, Harjot Chabra, a bereaved father mourning the recent loss of his son Manjot, raises serious allegations. "My son was Manjot Chabra. I sent him to Kota for NEET 2024 preparations just 3 and a half months ago. My son was a school topper, scoring 94% in his 12th standard," stated Harjot, pain evident in his eyes. He further revealed the disturbing circumstances of Manjot's death at the "Vasanti Regency" hostel. "They covered his face with plastic, strangled him, and bound his hands behind him. No child can attempt suicide in such a manner. My son was cruelly murdered." The case, currently under investigation, has been transferred to the CID.

Read More: Probing Medical Negligence Claims in Amit Kataria’s Death

When asked about his interactions with the local authorities, Harjot did not mince words. "The Kota police haven't assisted us. Instead, they've been keen on mislabeling this murder as a suicide. They interfered with the crime scene, tampered with my son's belongings, and even the CCTV recordings. If the DVR forensic analysis here in Kota doesn't provide clarity, I'll ensure it's scrutinised in Delhi or elsewhere," he stated.

Meanwhile, disturbing narratives emerge from students about Kota suicides. Rawish Singh, a youngster from Muzaffarnagar, offered an insider's view on the practices in Kota's coaching institutions. "If teachers take special interest in a student, it's predominantly those who secure top scores," Rawish disclosed. This academic segregation, as he explained, means that students who fare well in the coaching tests are separated and taught in exclusive batches, while the majority continue with standard classes. "For the rest of us, this demarcation remains constant," lamented Rawish.

Tanay Tailor, a student gearing up for his NEET examinations, offers a first-hand account of the ordeal. "The initial pressure a student endures is self-imposed. Amid the drive to excel, many neglect their physical and mental well-being, often aiming to cover the syllabus at the eleventh hour—a feat not achievable by all," Tanay elucidated. To compound matters, parental expectations weigh heavily. "The customary parental pressure, though perceived as 'normal', can be quite formidable," he admitted.

Read More: Exclusive: From stalking and sexual harassment to sharing secret files, Haryana coach says Minister did it all

Tarif Hussain, a lecturer at Gravity Classes, Kota, adds to this narrative, pointing fingers at both parents and the coaching industry for the mounting Kota suicides. "The fervent desire of parents to see their children as doctors or engineers, combined with the grinding regimen of coaching centres, is a toxic cocktail that severely impacts students' mental health," he stated. He paints a bleak picture, describing how students are subjected to demoralising comments about their socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, many grapple with homesickness, health concerns, dietary issues, and adjusting to a new community. "Add to this the perpetual worry about their future and familial expectations, it's no wonder that some view the tragic step of suicide as an escape," Tarif lamented.

Dr. Vinayak Pathak, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Sudha Medical College, Kota, who has counseled numerous such students, highlights the subtle signs that may suggest a student's suicidal inclinations. "Paradoxical Happiness, where a student who appears suddenly elated, indulging in unusual behaviours like extravagant spending, might be hiding profound distress," Dr. Pathak warned. He continued, "Other warning signs are more evident, such as a sudden cessation of communication, withdrawal from activities that previously brought joy, and complete isolation."

Rajkumar Singh, Kota's Additional District Magistrate, spoke about the pressures students face, juxtaposed against the limited availability of academic opportunities. "Considering the fixed number of medical seats nationwide, it's apparent that only a fraction of these aspirants will secure their dream spots. The initial assessment of the child's aptitude should be the parents' responsibility. Unfair expectations, even from underperforming students, driven by parents' ambitions, contribute significantly to the stress these children face," Singh remarked. He stressed the intensified strain a young student undergoes when made to study for over 12 hours daily, with little room for relaxation or sports.

Read more: Manipur Violence: Why Doesn’t the Violence Stop Here?

In addressing the issue, Singh highlighted the government's initiatives. "A policy introduced in 2018 necessitated the appointment of psychologists and regular counselling for both students and their guardians. Additionally, in November 2022, further directions were issued to enhance these interventions," he elaborated. He also discussed a new grievance portal developed for students to directly report their concerns, with an assurance of timely redressal. "We've also strategically positioned helpline numbers of administrative officers, police, and psychologists in all coaching institutes. Additionally, an anti-hanging device has been introduced to fans. While it may not provide a comprehensive solution, it aims to deter any immediate suicidal attempts, allowing timely intervention and support," Singh added.

Amid mounting Kota suicides, the concerns are clear. There's more beneath the surface that demands urgent attention from families, coaching institutes, and the government. With mounting pressures, alarming incidents, and troubling testimonies, it's evident that this isn't just about academic challenges. There's a deeper narrative that intersects with societal expectations, institutional practices, and the mental well-being of young aspirants.

To ACCESS and SUPPORT our exclusive stories and impactful public interest journalism, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Click on THE PROBE'S LOGO below to subscribe.