IIT Kanpur Witnesses Third Suicide in a Month, Sparking Students' Sit-in Protest Against Administration

The students collective demand to conduct faculty sensitization sessions twice each semester through an external organization, with mandatory participation.
Protesting students at IIT-Kanpur on Friday.
Protesting students at IIT-Kanpur on Friday.

Lucknow: Barely one week after a student was found dead on the campus, a PhD student enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur), was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her hostel room on Thursday morning. It is the third such incident in the institute in a month and the second this year. Infuriated by the incident, Students staged a protest in the campus, raising issues of incompetence of redressal mechanisms, representation, and demanding accountability from the administration.

According to the police, the research scholar, Priyanka, hailed from Dumka in Jharkhand. The matter came to light after Priyanka’s father, Narendra Jaiswal, informed her hostel manager Ritu Pandey that Priyanka was not answering the call. When the hostel manager reached her hostel room, she found the door locked from inside. When Priyanka did not open the door for a long time, Pandey broke open the room, and her worst fear came true—Priyanka was found hanging from a ceiling fan. The police reached the campus after the authorities informed them of the incident.

Speaking to The Mooknayak, sources from the Kanpur Police informed that no foul play has been found, and the body is being sent for post-mortem.

On January 11, M.Tech second-year student Vikas Kumar Meena (30) allegedly hanged himself from the ceiling fan in his IIT Kanpur hostel room. On December 19 last year, postdoctoral researcher Pallavi Chilka (34) hanged herself from the ceiling fan of her second-floor hostel room on the campus. This suicide makes it the second suicide this year and the third suicide within a month.

Reacting to the suicide, the IIT Bombay handle of Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle said, “These institutions are becoming 'graveyards of eminence'. We need institutions of empathy where students are supported and nurtured, not harassed and killed. The administration of these institutions should be held accountable.”

Students Body Launch Protest against the Administration

Meanwhile, the student senate held an emergency meeting on Thursday night and called for a demonstration on Friday, January 19, against the “incompetence of redressal bodies” in recognizing and resolving student issues. Some of the demands made by the Student Senate, as per the website of Vox Populi, a student media body of IIT Kanpur, are:

  • Proposal to establish a Master’s Monitoring Committee (MMC) for Master's students, similar to DMC (Doctoral Management Committee).

  • Conduct faculty sensitization sessions twice each semester through an external organization, with mandatory participation.

  • Demand for the DMC to conduct evaluation twice per semester, taking into account (S/X) grades along with guidelines to prevent X grades.

  • Formation of an ombuds committee composed of students and faculties chaired by the external DG level officer utilizing a transparent feedback system.

  • Appointment of an external co-guide, based on research domains, in case of a change in supervisor, to account for past thesis work.

  • An optional MSR degree exit option for PhD students with tangible thesis completion till the 9th semester.

  • Introduction to an Institute Compulsory course on mental well-being and mutual care in the first year and to be conducted in smaller groups.

The students have also proposed the reinstatement of terminated students with immediate effect.

The demonstration of the students began on Friday morning, and the Director agreed to reach the protest site, but the meeting had not started at the time of filing this story.

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