PV Ramanujam, the Ranchi bureau chief for the Press Trust of India, died on Wednesday night, allegedly by suicide.
"Around 8 in the morning, we were informed that PV Ramanujam, who was in his 50s, had died allegedly by suicide," an officer at the Lalpur police station in the city said. "When we reached the spot we saw his body hanging from a fan."
According to the journalist's wife, Subhalakshmi, Ramanujam had his dinner on Wednesday and went straight to his room to file a story on Covid, the police officer said. He went to sleep at around 11.30 pm. When his wife woke up at around 7.30 am, he continued, "she found his room locked from the inside. She repeatedly knocked but there was no answer."
The police were then called. They looked through the window and saw Ramanujam's body.
Naushad Alam Ansari, the superintendent of police, told Newslaundry that an SIT had been formed to investigate the case. "A team of policemen has started investigating to confirm if it was suicide or if there is any other cause of death. We have not found any suicide note as yet."
According to the police, Ramanujam's body was taken to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences at 10 am and administered a Covid test.
Indukant Dixit, a principal correspondent with PTI and Ramanujam's colleague, told Newslaundry the Covid test result came back negative. The funeral will take place today.
"In Jharkhand, only two of us worked for PTI. I handled Hindi department and he worked for the English one," Dixit said. "At 11 pm, he shared with me a story...After this, we don't know what exactly happened. It is shocking to me."
Dixit said Ramanujam's wife had told him that the journalist was under pressure at work. Ramanujam had reportedly applied for 30 days' leave just three days before his death. "But I am not able to understand what went wrong, that he took such a big step," he said.
Samir Kumar Mishra, PTI's regional bureau chief, told Newslaundry that he was "in deep shock" and not in a position to comment on Ramanujam's death. He directed this correspondent to PTI's editor-in-chief, Vijay Joshi, who also said it was not the right time to speak on the matter.
Ramanujam worked for PTI in various capacities in Cuttack, Delhi and Ranchi. He's survived by his wife and a son who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Bhubhaneswar.
Vijay Deo Jha, a journalist at the Pioneer, told Newslaundry that he had been close to Ramanujam.
"He was a very humble individual, a calm and composed person with no arrogance, and his work mattered to him the most," said Jha. "He was a very efficient journalist. We never saw him shout or yell at anyone. He also kept himself aloof from political feuds. I really doubt that he had any complications in his life...He was never controversial and was very dignified, and an introverted person by nature. On the professional front, he was very meticulous."
Hemant Soren, the chief minister of Jharkhand, expressed his grief over Ramanujam's death, calling it an "irreparable loss to the journalistic world".
If you, or someone you know, needs help to overcome suicidal thoughts, contact Fortis: +91 8376804102; AASRA: +91 98204 66726; The Samaritans, Mumbai: +91 84229 84528 (5 pm to 8 pm)