Ragging takes its toll:
The victim, Nishantha
What happened to him? Only time will tell. The truth is too heavy to
sink it will lie low for a while and then come out in the open.
Anyway innocent, hard-working Nishantha paid the supreme penalty and
his lifeless body was found hanging on a branch of a tree close to the
very University where he was selected and was wanting to pursue a Degree
but his dreams were shattered when the Seniors of the university stooped
to low down tactics when they ragged him.
He was not used to the type of ragging he was subject to since he
came from a simple background where this type of inhuman behaviour was
alien to him.
He tried to seek justice for the trauma that he underwent while he
was being ragged and complained to the authorities.
He wanted justice to be meted and the perpetrators to be brought to
book and the case ended up with the police where he was the prime
witness. Read on to find out the story behind Nishantha’s suicide...
University entrance is a dream for any youngster in Sri Lanka.
Only a handful of students are privileged to enter state
Universities. What with the selection process getting tougher and
tougher there is a stiff competition due to the limited number of
Dikovita Kankanamge Nishantha popularly known by his last name was
overjoyed to hear that he was among those who were selected to the
Peradeniya campus. Although he had passed the Advanced Level examination
with flying colours he waited expectantly not knowing whether he will be
selected or not.
Thus Nishantha went to the University, a happy man with many dreams
and expectations.. But unknown to him destiny had other plans.
Twenty-three-year-old Nishantha resided in Uyangoda Narangala. He was
the second child among four siblings. Nishantha’s father was a fish
vendor and his mother was a housewife. His older sister D.K. Shiromi
worked in a garment factory and his second sister D.K. Niroshani was
also working in a garment factory on a part time basis.
uncle Gamini with whom he was last employed
the aunty who nurtured Nishantha
She was a hard-working person and worked in the factory whenever she
had free time. She was pursuing an Arts Degree at the Kelaniya
University. D.K. Sampath, his youngest brother was studying in the
Advance level class at Biyagama Maha Vidyalaya.
Nishantha’s school life was beset with difficulties, but he had never
gave up, He strived to ovecome his difficulties win his goals in life
through education as he knew this was the only way he could lead a
Hailing from a family which faced financial difficulties, Nishantha
from an early age thought his salvation from poverty lay in having a
He knew that his parents were not financially capable to fund the
upbringing of all their children. He decided to settle down with his
aunt in Angunukolapalassa at an early age.
D.K. Nimali, Nishantha’s aunty took good care of him. She saw the
talent the young lad possessed and gave all the encouragement he needed
to further his education. Nishantha studied from grade five in Mahanaga
School in Angunukolaplassa under the care of his aunt. She was always
sensitive to his needs and provided everything she could for his
He was a bright student and popular among his friends and teachers.
Many in school adored him. He had a good personality and was considered
as a leader by his fellow students. He was appointed head prefect of the
school and performed his duties diligently and to the satisfaction of
both teachers and students. He was admired by the principal and teachers
for his discipline and hard work. In 2010 he sat for the Advanced Level
examination and passed the examination with good grades. In the district
rankings he had secured the 73rd place from Hambanthota.
His aunty Nimali was overjoyed with Nishantha’s success. His parents
were overcome with emotion on hearing their son’s success. After some
time Nishantha got the news that he had secured a place to enter
On October 2011, he had Peradeniya University as an undergraduate
with a lot of expectations for a bright future.
However there was another obstacle in his path – ragging, Before he
entered University he was aware that there was ragging in the campus for
new entrants. Nishantha who had never been out of home until then was
not accustomed to this. Another reason was he was dead against ragging.
Nishantha never anticipated that he would leave the university
prematurely. However, he could not tolerate the activities of senior
students and often lost his temper when he was confronted with their
When he entered the campus he expected it to be a friendly and
enjoyable place. But he found that this was not the case for new
entrants. The myth lasted only for a brief period and the harsh reality
surfaced. The ragging he underwent was unbearable !
One day Nishantha and his friend had been subjected to severe ragging
which reached the boundaries of sexual harassment. Subsequently, this
was exposed to authorities and some senior students had to face the
wrath of the authorities. Charges were filed against them with law
enforcement authorities with the case eventually ending in courts.
After this incident Nishantha lost all interest in studies. He was
under a lot of pressure and this had an impact on him. After the
incident he was often targetted by seniors and subject to ridicule.
Finally he decided to bid farewell to Peradeniya University albeit
prematurely ending his studies. Since the departure from Peradeniya
university, Nishantha stayed with his uncle in Biyagama and worked as a
lorry cleaner. He was quite content with his work and had tried to
forget the horrifying experience he had in Peradeniya
However, about a month ago Nishantha went missing from his work
place. He had met one of his friends for a cup of tea and that was the
last they heard of him.
Subsequently, the lifeless body of Nishantha was found hanging from a
tree in the thicket within the Peradeniya campus premises. His body was
hanging in a tree behind the Markus Fernando Hall.
Incidentally Nishantha was a key witness in the ongoing ragging case
and the next hearing was supposed to be held on the 23rd of this month.
What led to Nishantha’s death is a mystery. Was it suicide or foul play?
“My son was severely ragged. There is even a case pending against
some senior students in which my son is the main witness. Hence I am
suspicious over his death” said D M Kusumawathi, mother of the deceased.
Ironically his girlfriend is an undergraduate at Peradeniya
University. She too had tried to find out what had happened to Nishantha
but failed to contact him. Then she received the sad news about his
According to her she had seen no evidence of any mental distress to
Was it suicide or homicide that ended the life of this bright
youngster? If it is murder who is responsible for this gruesome act? Is
it a stupid irrational decision of an individual or is it society at
large that is responsible for the loss of this human being, only time
Nishantha’s fiance’s statement
She made a statement to the Peradeniya police. ‘Nishantha and I
entered University at the same time. We began a friendship and then we
became lovers. He did not tell me about the ragging incident at the
inception. After about two months he told me that his grandmother was
not keeping too well and that he was going to see her.
Then he phoned me and told me that he would not return to the campus
because he was disappointed with the set up and that he was not well.
Although he left the campus we continued with our association. He
left campus and became a cleaner in his uncle’s lorry. I told him many
times that we could talk it over with the authorities and request for a
transfer to another campus. He said” I only like the Peradeniya campus.
I am not in favour of any other campus. He came to see me on about six
occasions after he left the campus.
He came to Kandy and met me. Nishantha was afraid to come to the
campus. On January 26 I had gone home for the holidays. When I phoned
him he said that he was at the Fort bus stand and had left his uncle’s
home and had no place to go but that there was a bus to Anuradhapura.
I told him to come to Anuradhapura. I kept phoning him from time to
time. At about 4.30 pm. he told me he was in Anuradhapura.”I have no
place to go” was his continuous refrain and that he did not know
anybody. I had already told my mother about our association so I told
him not to worry and to come home. He came home had dinner and left the
next day at six in the morning saying he was visiting a friend known as
Samare. Anyway when I next called him he was in Kandy. I asked why he
had gone to Kandy and asked him to take a Colombo bound bus and go home.
At about 12.30 when I called him he said he was at the Peradeniya
University. I told him not to go there because I was also not there.
Then he told me that the place was not like it was when I was there and
now the surroundings too had changed. “There are no flowers even. You
better study well because you have a good future” was what he told me at
that time. At about 2.30 he said he was near Markus hall. I told him to
get back home post haste without walking about. After that there was no
The phone went dead. I phoned his sister and uncle and informed them.
From that day onwards I had no information about him.
On February 10 his sister informed me that a body was found hanging
on a tree in a shrub jungle close to the Peradeniya campus. She then
told me that the body was that of Nishantha. A friend also confirmed
that it was him.