IIT Bombay Student Suicide: Darshan Solanki told his mother about caste discrimination
Press Trust of India|May 31, 2023
NEW DELHI: The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has recommended a First Information Report (FIR) against Hima Anaredy, the head counsellor of the Student Welfare Centre (SWC) in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay under the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 whose casteist remarks on a social media post went viral. The commission was hearing representation made by Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) regarding lack of mental health support for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in IIT Bombay.
NCST recommended IIT Bombay to encourage PG and doctoral SC, ST students to apply for teaching posts in the institute and provide a detailed report of suicide case of Darshan Solanki.
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NCST also recommended the institute to recruit expert counsellors having ST background for SWC to bring back faith of students; ensure presence of faculty counsellors on campus; appoint convenor with ST background in SC,ST cell; and provide a detailed report with data on composition of faculty, students, staff members as well as SWC and complaints dealt by it.
The commission further recommended sensitizing the campus on the issue of caste-based discrimination, conducting workshops and conferences in the first 3-6 months of an academic year. Making the recommendations, the commission asked the institute to submit an action-taken report in 15 days.
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Violation of reservation norms, caste-based discrimination
Earlier, IIT Bombay director had submitted that Anaredy had been removed from SWC though she works in the institute. It said that an investigation is under process on Solanki's death and mentioned facilities for mental heath of students. IIT Bombay denied the allegations made by APPSC of flouting reservation norms. NCST had summoned the director after finding its previous submissions unsatisfactory. APPSC had alleged during the hearing that eight students felt suicidal and there was no grievance redressal system. It had also alleged that discrimination is 'rampant' in mentorship programme and the institute is violating reservation guidelines.
IIT Bombay had previously submitted, on NCST's notice, that courses on sensitization regarding caste-based issues have been planned, the head counsellor had been asked to take down the casteist post from social media and warned for future, and that the recruitment of one SC, ST counsellor each is in process. The institute had informed that the head counsellor is working on joint survey on mental health.
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"The commission takes a very serious view of the reply which has been found to be incorrect during the course of the sitting. It has been categorically accepted by the director that the averment made in the reply is incorrect so far as it is concerned with the involvement and research work of Ms Hima Anaredy in the SC/ST cell," said NCST while listing down the recommendations.
APPSC, in its representation, had alleged that the SWC has no SC, ST counsellor and the head counsellor is “brazenly vocal about casteist and anti-reservation views that make SC, ST students uncomfortable about approaching her.” The circle also alleged that alumni initiative for mental health services named “Bandhu” doesn’t cater to caste-based services. APPSC demanded termination of Anaredy, recruitment of counsellors having SC, ST background, and conduct of workshops on caste sensitization for all.
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