Pinarayi writes to Nitish on basketball player’s suicide, her coach is named in case

A DAY after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar asking for a “comprehensive and fair” investigation into the alleged suicide of a national level basketball player, Lithara KC, in Patna, a case of abetment of suicide was registered against a coach on Friday.

Lithara, 23, from Kunumal village in Vadakara, Kozhikode, was employed by the Railways under the sports quota and was posted at the Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Danapur, Bihar. She is reported to have died by suicide on the intervening night of April 25-26.

The coach is also a Railways’ employee. “A case of abetment of suicide (Section 306 IPC) has been filed against the coach and Railways official following the complaint by her family. There are allegations of mental and sexual harassment, and it will be probed,” said a police officer in Patna.

Raising the issue in a letter to Nitish on Thursday, Vijayan wrote: “Her relative had requested for a thorough probe into the incident of her untimely death. It has been brought to my attention by one of her relatives that in their opinion no circumstances existed which would have led to Miss Lithara’s suicide.”

In a complaint filed at the Rajiv Nagar police station in Patna on April 27, Lithara’s maternal uncle, Rajeevan, alleged that Lithara had been sexually and mentally harassed by the coach.

“Earlier, I was informed by Lithara that her basketball coach was involved in mental and sexual harassment, and he was putting pressure on her. Since he has influence in high places, she couldn’t complain against him. I believe that because of the mental trauma of being harassed by the coach, Lithara committed suicide,” Rajeevan said in his complaint.

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When contacted, Rajeevan said: “When she came home for Vishu (Kerala new year, in mid-April), she seemed to be in a good frame of mind. We don’t know if the coach troubled her again after she returned to Patna.”

He said Lithara’s father husks coconuts for a living but has been unable to work due to a slipped disc. Her mother has been diagnosed with cancer. “Both her parents are unwell but they were happy that Lithara was doing well. This tragedy came as a shock to everyone,” said Rajeevan, who travelled to Patna after the family was informed about the death. Lithara has two older sisters who are married.

Lithara started playing basketball at the Kannur Division Sports School before moving to Thrissur. “She was passionate about the sport and had trained very hard to get where she was,” Rajeevan said. She was in the Kerala team that won the 32nd Federation Cup championship after defeating Tamil Nadu 66-50 in 2018.

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