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Nascent NLU Jabalpur VC moves to ‘haunted’ suicide room to provide emotional support to students

Balraj Chauhan moves to dispel fears of deceased student’s ghost
Balraj Chauhan moves to dispel fears of deceased student’s ghost

NLU Jabalpur vice chancellor (VC) Prof Balraj Chauhan has been occupying the hostel room of a student of the law school who committed suicide on 9 September possibly under stress about his weak command over English, as first reported Times of India.

Chauhan’s move to the student’s hostel room had been made to allay the anxiety of other students of the hostel, who had begun vacating their own rooms on the same floor as the deceased student, following his death.

Eighteen-year-old Gagan Bhunderkar had been found hanging in his hostel room barely 15 days after the first ever academic session commenced at the nascent NLU and initial police investigations had revealed that he had “felt like an outcast”, was taking tuition to improve his English language skills and had failed an English test on the day he was found hanging his his room, according to the TOI report and News18.

Bhunderkar, said to have come from an area in Madhya Pradesh with a heavy Maoist presence, had gained admission to the NLU under the MP domicile quota.

Chauhan told us that he had asked a few times for permission to discontinue his stay at the hostel and go back home to his parents and each time the permission had been granted, but Bhunderkar eventually returned.

Chauhan also said that though he hadn’t personally interacted with Bhunderkar, his mentor had constantly been in touch with him and there had been no signs of depression.

“It had only been 15 days, we were just not prepared for this,” the VC added.

There are counselors present on the NLU Jabalpur campus who have done the psychological profiling of all students and this exercise too did not detect suicidal tendencies in Bhunderkar, according to Chauhan.

“I think the difference between older generations and now is that we used to live in joint families whereas children these days have nobody to talk to,” Chauhan commented. “They are lonely.”

Other students had begun vacating their own rooms on the same floor as Bhunderkar’s room after his death allegedly due to fears that his room was haunted, added the TOI and News18 reports.

Chauhan said that the students being a mere 17 or 18 years old, were not prepared for such an incident and were under stress, so he shifted residence to provide them emotional support and occupied Bhunderkar’s room for one week before he had to leave the city for other engagements.

He said on Friday that he would continue to occupy that room again after returning to campus later that evening.

If you or someone you know needs help, please consider contacting any of a number of Indian NGOs dealing with suicide prevention listed here.

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