Alappuzha: A 15-year-old sportsperson died early on Thursday and three others, all undergoing training at Water Sports Centre of Sports Authority of India (SAI) here have been hospitalized, after they ate a poisonous fruit in an apparent suicide pact following alleged harassment by seniors.
The girls are suspected to have consumed the fruit, locally called 'Othalanga', at around 3 PM on Wednesday inside the SAI women's hostel. They were rushed to a hospital around 7 PM after they fainted and later taken to Alapuzha Medical College, where one of them died, police said.
The girls were undergoing training at the Water Sports Centre of the SAI at nearby Punnamada.
Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has asked the Kochi range Inspector General MR Ajith Kumar to probe the incident and submit a report.
Relatives of the athletes alleged that the girls were being physically and mentally tortured by some seniors.
However, the hostel warden denied the charges and said they came to know about the condition of the girls only when they fainted. "None in the hostel tortured them", she said.
A close relative of Aparna said the four girls were under severe stress because of the mental and physical pressure put on them by the SAI authorities.
"A few days ago Aparna was hit on her back using an oar. The hostel of the SAI does not have proper safety measures for the inmates. It was a free for all, to come and go inside the hostel campus," the relative told the media.
Meanwhile, Kerala sports minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said the state Sports secretary will probe the incident.
The government also announced financial help to the family of the deceased, and said expenses of those undergoing treatment would be met by the government.
Relatives of the athletes also alleged that some anti-social elements were also seen near the hostel.
Activists of DYFI staged a march to the SAI centre seeking strict against the “errant” officials.
All of the girls are athletes in canoeing and kayaking. One of the girls, who is in serious condition, is a gold medalist of the recently held 35th National Games here.