Alappuzha/Nagpur: A 15-year-old athlete died on Thursday and three others are battling for their lives, a day after consuming a poisonous fruit following alleged harassment at a Sports Authority of India hostel in Kerala’s Alappuzha, police said.
All the four girls were found unconscious on Wednesday in their room at the hostel of the Water Sports Centre, which is run by the SAI.
They were rushed to a hospital in Alappuzha, around 130 km from the state capital, where one of them died on Thursday morning, police added. The condition of the other three is stated to be critical.
Family-members of the deceased, 15-year-old Aparna Ramachandran, said the four athletes were “under pressure” from warden and other senior players.
“They were physically and mentally harassed. Aparna suffered injuries in an attack two weeks back when the coach thrashed her with an oar,” a family-member said.
However, hostel warden K Ragini denied the allegation and said the four were among a few trainees who were caught consuming alcohol and were reprimanded.
She said they may have taken the “extreme step” fearing further action.
Sources said the four girls consumed a locally found poisonous fruit cerbera odollam, known as ‘othalanga’ in Malayalam. The plant bearing the fruit is also known as ‘suicide tree’.
Sources said the Union sports ministry has sought a report from the SAI director general.
Kerala home minister Ramesh Chennithala has asked the Kochi range inspector general MR Ajith Kumar to probe the incident and submit a report.
Activists of DYFI – the CPM youth wing – staged a march to the SAI centre seeking strict against the “errant” officials.