After student’s death in drill, trainer booked for culpable homicide

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A day after he allegedly pushed a Coimbatore college student during a disaster management drill at the institution, leading to her death, the ‘trainer’ was booked under IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and arrested on Friday. N Logeswari, a second-year BBA student, was declared dead on arrival at Coimbatore Medical College on Thursday evening. The police said the accused, R Arumugam, claimed to have certification from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

In a media release, NDMA said it was not associated with the drill, and did not authorise the trainer for the exercise. “The National Disaster Management Authority wasn’t involved in this drill. The trainer wasn’t authorized by NDMA to conduct such a drill. NDMA does not approve of such drills to be undertaken without adequate preparation and safety measures,” it stated.

Arumugam, it has emerged, had reached out to the college on May 15 using what appeared to be an NDMA letterhead, with the Authority’s logo. The police have found that he had conducted such training programmes in Tamil Nadu colleges earlier and claimed to be a ‘Training Officer, Disaster Management and First Aid’ of NDMA.

The letterhead, with Arumugam’s name printed, gave the address of NDMA’s office in Safdarjang Enclave, New Delhi. During initial interrogation, Arumugam is learnt to have told the police that he finished a diploma programme in disaster management from NDMA, Delhi. He also claimed that he was being paid by the Centre for conducting disaster management training sessions in various institutions.

A senior officer said they are verifying Arumugam’s claims, details of his bank account and his salary details to probe the NDMA link.

In a video of the accident that went public, victim Logeswari was seen reluctant to jump off the second floor — on a net put up for safe landing of the participants. Arumugam was seen prodding her to jump as she sat on the sunshade. He then allegedly pushed her, the video shows.

Hitting the sunshade of the first floor during her fall, the student suffered serious head and neck injuries, which turned fatal.

Condoling the death, Chief Minister E K Palaniswami said he has asked police and the Higher Education department to take stringent action against those who organised the drill “without approval”. He announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh to the victim’s family.

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