IIT-Kanpur Tragedy: Second Student Suicide in Three Weeks Raises Alarms

This marks the first case of suicide in IITs this year, less than three weeks after a postdoctoral research student took her life on December 21 of the previous year on the same campus.
IIT-Kanpur Tragedy: Second Student Suicide in Three Weeks Raises Alarms

Kanpur- In 2023, when Darshan Solanki committed suicide at IIT Mumbai, he was the first of many students who would later do the same in various IITs across the country. Unfortunately, this year began on a somber note as Vikas Meena, a 2nd-year student of Aerospace Engineering from IIT Kanpur, was found dead on the evening of Wednesday, January 10.

A communication shared by the IIT Director to all students stated, “With profound grief, I inform you of the tragic and untimely demise of Mr. Vikas Kumar Meena, a student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering." The email further described Vikas as an academically bright student who joined the institute in 2021. He hailed from Meerut, UP.

According to a statement on the social media platform “X” by the handle of Police Commissionerate Kanpur Nagar, the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Kalyanpur, Abhishek Kumar Pandey, mentioned that the police were informed about the death of an MTech student of the Aerospace Engineering department by the Chief Security Officer of the institution at around 9 pm on January 10. The police promptly reached the site and initiated an investigation. The deceased's parents were also informed about the incident, and the body was sent for an autopsy.

IITs Becoming Graveyards For Students

Sharing the news of the student's death on the X (formerly Twitter) APPSC, IIT Bombay wrote, "IITs becoming graveyards for students. These are institutional murders committed by administrations who do not care about the well-being of students, do not provide support systems, and enable harassment and discrimination."

In the preceding year, there were a series of suicides across the IIT campuses in the country, including:

  • February 12: Darshan Solanki, an 18-year-old Chemical Engineering student, allegedly committed suicide by jumping from the 7th floor of his hostel building.

  • February 13: The second suicide of the year was reported after Stephen Sunny, a 27-year-old research scholar from Maharashtra, committed suicide at IIT Madras

  • March 14: Pushpak, a third-year B Tech student, was found hanging in his Alaknanda hostel room at IIT Madras.

  • March 31: Kedar Suresh, a 20-year-old student belonging to Madhya Pradesh, enrolled in the Second-year of B.Tech Chemical Engineering at IIT Madras.

  • July 9: Ayush Ashna, a fourth-year student belonging to the Mathematics and Computing department, committed suicide at IIT-Delhi.

  • September 1: Anil Kumar, another student belonging to the Scheduled Caste and the same department as Ayush Ashna, committed suicide at IIT Delhi.

Second Suicide in Less Than Three Weeks

Pallavi Chilka, a 34-year-old research scholar hailing from Odisha’s Cuttack and pursuing post-doctoral research at the Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering of IIT K, was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her hostel room on December 21, 2023.

According to a report by PTI news agency, a cleaning staff had knocked on Chilka's door late in the afternoon, and there was no response. The person then peeped inside and found Chilka hanging.

Stress not discrimination reason for suicides: Govt

In April 2023, the union government provided data indicating that from 2018 to 2023, there were a total of seven suicides by SC/ST students in IITs (six SC and one ST). Additionally, between 2017 and 2021, seven suicides of SC students were reported in other Central universities.

The Education Ministry stated that in such cases, internal investigations by the institutes are conducted along with inquiries by the police and district authorities. The reasons behind these tragic incidents were found to include academic stress, family issues, personal reasons, and mental health concerns, among others.

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