Dalit student dies by suicide in IIT Bombay; students' body alleges caste discrimination, demands probe

In a detailed statement on social media on campus suicides, the APPSC-IIT Bombay termed it as "an institutional issue"

Via Twitter
Via Twitter

NH Digital

Darshan Solanki, a dalit student from IIT-Bombay has allegedly died by suicide on the 12th of February by jumping from the 7th floor of the hostel building.

A day after, the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC-IITB) has called out the institution for various lapses with regards to pupils hailing from non-urban areas and belonging to SC/ST categories.

In a detailed statement on social media on campus suicides, the APPSC-IIT Bombay termed it as "an institutional issue", as students from non-urban, non-English speaking backgrounds, oppressed castes (SC/ST) and low-income families "face immense harassment and discrimination" on the campus from students, faculties and employees.

"These institutional and casual ways of casteism cause mental and psychological stress on students, but IITs lack any mechanism to help them. We have been raising the issue of the lack of mental health support for our students with the IIT administration as well as other forums like National Commission for SC/STs," said the students' body.

Recalling the September 2014 death of SC student Aniket Ambhore, 22, the APPSC-IITB said he faced derogatory comments about his academic abilities and how such an atmosphere of discrimination affects the mental state and motivation of Dalit students.

"How many more Darshans and Anikets need to die?" the APPSC-IITB asked, urging the IIT-B to shed apathy, probe Solanki's death and resolve all the issues pertaining to students from SC/ST/OBCs it had raised.

"We have been raising the issue of having a Dalit counsellor for years now, someone who is more caste aware, but the institution has failed its students time and time again in that regard," said Pranav Jeevan, an APPSC cell member.

The Director of IIT Bombay expressed his sorrow and regret through a mail sent out to students and faculty, stating, "We regret to inform the loss of a first-year student in a tragic incident this afternoon. Powai police are investigating the case. The parents of the student have been informed and they are on their way. We deeply mourn the death of the student and pray that the family gets the strength to bear this loss. May his soul rest in peace."

In addition to the lack of a Dalit counsellor, the APPSC cell has also spoken out about the lack of representation in the faculty and the delay in the formation of the SC/ST cell.

"The child's parents are on their way and the police will be conducting the post-mortem. This is a very unfortunate incident and the IIT will take all necessary steps that follow," said an official from IIT Bombay.

"Based on the primary information, we have registered a case of accidental death. Further investigation is underway," senior police inspector Budhan Sawant told PTI.

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