IIT Madras suicide: Student organizations demand “fair and transparent” investigation

IIT Madras suicide: Student organizations demand “fair and transparent” investigation Photo used for representational purpose only (Credit: Shutterstock)
Team Careers360 | Nov 14, 2019 - 11:27 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Days after the suicide of Fathima Latheef, a first-year humanities student of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, student organizations of IIT Madras and IIT Bombay have demanded “a fair and transparent probe” in the case. The organizations have also called for the suspension of the three faculty members who are allegedly accused in Latheef’s suicide note as catalysts for her demise.

The student organizations’ statement came after Latheef’s kin publicly expressed concern about the investigation and the alleged non-cooperation of IIT Madras authorities. “We are afraid that as the police have not mentioned anything about the suicide note till date, they might try to tamper with it due to pressure from IIT authorities,” said Abdul Latheef, Fathima Latheef’s father, in a press conference on Tuesday, November 12.

He also alleged that Fathima was constantly harrassed by IIT Madras faculty.

“This is a repeat of Rohith Vemula. I possess all records to prove that my daughter was being harassed by the department for the past 28 days. She has named faculty members in her notes. I do not know what sort of harassment she was facing there. Whether it was mental, or otherwise, I will fight till my last breath to bring those who harassed her to justice," said Latheef to The News Minute. Vemula was a Dalit scholar at Hyderabad Central University. He committed suicide in January 2016, after being evicted from his hostel.

“Suspend accused faculty”

Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, a student organization in IIT Madras, in a statement on November 12, said: “We demand a proper police investigation and also an investigation by an institute-level committee which includes external experts. The faculty accused of causing Fathima’s death should be instructed to go on leave until the investigations are over”.

A second statement by the same student’s group released today, November 14, called for the suicide to be seen as a systemic problem. “Every single time, the reasons cited are personal. But, it is high time that IIT-M acknowledges that this is a systemic problem and not an issue solely limited to the concerned individual,” the statement says.

This is the fourth suicide at IIT Madras this year.

IIT Bombay’s Ambedkarite Students Collective called for the condemnation of “communal and casteist IIT Madras faculty”: and demanded “action against islamophobia”.

“Suspend the three accused faculty named by Fathima with immediate effect pending internal and police enquiry,” they demanded. The group also demanded a law, “a Rohith Act” to “punish caste, religious and gender-based discrimination in Indian varsities”.

Following a collective outcry over the handling of the case, the investigation has been transferred to the Central Crime Branch, police officials informed today, November 14. The City Police Commissionaire A.K Viswanathan said: “As it is a sensitive case, the investigation has been transferred from Kotturpuram police to the Central Crime Branch. A special team headed by Additional Commissioner of Police C. Easwaramurthy will thoroughly enquire into the death and bring out the truth.”

For help, AASRA has a list of resources here: http://www.aasra.info/helpline.html


Update: The copy has been updated to include the latest announcement from the police.

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