It was a college romance with a horrific ending. On Wednesday, a student of St Xavier's College, Ranchi, was beheaded by her boyfriend inside the campus in the heart of the city. Bijendra Kumar alias Golu, 23, an engineering diploma student of Jamshedpur, used a small dagger to severe the head of Khusbu, 18, an intermediate student. He was nabbed by students and security guards.

Khusbu belonged to Tatilsilwai on the outskirts of Ranchi, but she visited her uncle's house in Jamshedpur's Sonari locality. "The duo apparently met in Jamshedpur and had an affair, which might have turned sour," said city SP Sambhu Thakur.

Kumar's family in Jamshedpur had no information about the crime. When HT contacted the family, his mother Yamini Devi said, "He left the house around 8.30am for the institute and we haven't heard from him yet."

When briefed about the incident, Yamini broke down. She said, "We came to know about his affair with Khusbu two months ago when she ran away from her house and came to Jamshedpur to marry my son." Khusbu's uncle Rajendra Singh had then intervened and thrashed Kumar for inciting his minor niece to elope. Police said they were trying to find out the reasons behind the murder.

Eyewitnesses said Khusbu had come to college with her grandmother to take her exams. Kumar had followed her, and got into an altercation with her grandmother. "... He attacked her as soon as she came out of the exam hall," said an eyewitness.

Kumar was thrashed before police took him and sent him to hospital. "We were in love for the last five years, but our parents did not allow us to unite, so we decided to die together. After killing her, I was about to kill myself when they caught me," said Kumar.

"There cannot be anything more brutal than this," said Nicholas Tete, principal of St Xavier's College.