(Trigger warning: Description of suicide. If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs)
"Shivam was not just someone with his head buried in a book – he really understood what he was studying, and hence, he was very good at it."
A second-year Business Analytics student at the Indian Institute of Management-Ranchi (IIM-R), Shivam Pandey was found dead in his hostel room on the night of Monday, 16 January, with his hands tied up.
"He used to say that he would begin his career when I end mine. How can a son like this die by suicide?" asked the 23-year-old student's dejected father Akhileshwar Pandey, who last spoke to his son over the phone the night before his death.
"Everything was normal," he added. "Our new house is under construction – and we spoke on Sunday about what we would all be wearing for the housewarming scheduled on 26 January. We talked for over 10 minutes that night," 50-year-old Akhileshwar told The Quint.
Originally from Bihar's Sasaram, Akhileshwar works in the construction sector – and now lives with his wife and younger daughter in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi.
"I called him again in the afternoon the next day to show him the options for lighting for our new house. But he didn't pick up his phone. I thought he might be in class," he said.
'Someone Killed Him'
Akhileshwar was informed on Monday night that his son was no more.
"I asked the management at IIM-R the cause of his death, and they told me it was suicide. But I told them that wasn't possible. My son is very cheerful and friendly…"
Akhileshwar raised multiple questions over the alleged suicide of his son – and even mentioned the same in his written statement to the Ranchi Police. "It appears my son has been killed," he said in his statement.
The Ranchi Police, meanwhile, has refrained from making any comments on the cause of Shivam's death. A Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police-level office, has been constituted to probe the case.
Speaking to The Quint, Naushad Alam, Superintendent of Police (Rural), Ranchi, said:
"We can't say anything with certainty in the matter and the cause of death of Shivam Pandey. However, we have constituted a special team to investigate all angles and are awaiting the results of the post mortem to ascertain the cause."
In a statement to the media, IIM-Ranchi authorities said that Shivam was "found hanging from a ceiling fan in his hostel room."
"The institute authorities informed the police and the student's family members about the incident. Police is investigating the matter, considering all perspectives. The deceased boy's body was retrieved and sent for autopsy and the report is awaited," the statement added.
'A Quiz Head, Loved Anchoring'
According to his father, Shivam Pandey was an avid quizzer and had been exceptionally meritorious since he was a child. He had participated in an all-India quiz competition called 'The Lallantop Quiz Show', organised by media outlet The Lallantop in 2019, Pandey recalled.
Shivam had clinched a job with a reputed company after his BTech in computer sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. However, he decided to pursue MBA on his father's advice.
"He was so ambitious and good at his studies – sometimes, too good," he added. Apart from that, his father remembered him as an enthusiastic anchor.
"Initially, he had a massive stage fright. In his first attempt at anchoring, he failed miserably… he forgot his lines. A few months later he was welcoming a famous YouTuber Yahya Bootwala in front of so many people. He was very competitive and ambitious that way," his father said.