New Delhi— Just a few days after two students committed suicide in Kota, the coaching hub of Rajasthan, Anil Kumar, a 21-year-old student belonging to the Scheduled Caste, committed suicide in IIT Delhi. It is worth noting that Kota is a coaching hub where students prepare rigorously to gain admission to IITs, the premier technology institutes of India.
The official email from IIT Delhi on Friday informed that Anil Kumar, a resident of Vindhyachal Hostel on the campus, was found hanging in his room, which was locked from the inside. "The police have taken custody of his mortal remains. This tragic loss is also compounded by the fact that Anil belonged to the SC community. We extend our deepest condolences to the family in their hour of grief," read the IIT director's email.
This is the second case of suicide within a span of two months on the campus. On July 10th, Ayush Ashna from the Mathematics department of the same batch (2019) had committed suicide. The most important thread that connected Ayush and Anil was that they belonged to the Scheduled Caste community, and sadly, this thread also connects most of the students who committed suicide. Anil Kumar was on an extension as he had not cleared the exams, and he was given a six-month extension.
A statement released on behalf of the IIT Delhi students read, "We, the students of IIT Delhi, condemn the institutionally engineered exclusion, apathy, and indifference that have claimed the lives of two Dalit students, Ayush Ashna and Anil Kumar, in less than two months. This is a moment of crisis, and normal functioning must be temporarily suspended with immediate effect." The collective statement referred to the suicides as "Institutional Murders" and demanded that the IIT Director, the HOD, and Faculty members of the Department of Mathematics must address it in their department. The statement also called for the suspension of classes on Monday from 8 AM onwards.
Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle- IIT Bombay wrote on Twitter, "Another student suicide at @iitdelhi. Students are not coming to IITs to die. The administration of these institutes should be held accountable for the loss of lives. How many more Anikets and Darshans and Ayushs will we lose before we see any institutional change?" Notably, this suicide comes in the wake of an RTI filed by Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle, which found gross violations of reservation rules in the university's PhD admissions this year. Eighty seats belonging to SC/ST/OBC were given to savarnas, and 263 general category candidates were admitted against 168 vacancies.
Speaking to The Mooknayak, , a student of IIT Delhi associated with Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle, said, "This is the second death in the last two months, and I think this is institutional murder. Why is it that students from the same department committed suicide, and why are only SC/ST students failing? We want accountability from the administration, and therefore, we have called for an open meeting with the Director on Monday, and this time we have also extended the accountability to the faculties."
Madhusudan, an activist from Odisha, had to drop out of the M Tech course at IIT Roorkee due to alleged discrimination by the faculties in the institute. He said some faculties were very uncooperative, ignored him, and did not clarify his doubts outside the class. On the other hand, they used to teach the Savarna students while making them sit with them. He recalled that even in the hostel rooms and the canteen, the environment was not conducive, and there was profiling of students coming from reservations in discussions among the students. "I was deliberately failed in two subjects, and the rule at that time was that if you fail in a semester, you won't be allowed to continue in the next semester, and you will have to leave the hostel. So, I had to drop out of IIT Roorkee."
The activist said that the prime reason for the ordeal of Bahujan students in IITs is the absence of SC/ST faculties in these institutes, as revealed by the RTI reports of Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle. The Savarna teachers act as Dronacharyas, who do not chop off the thumb of Eklavya but the throat.
There have been at least seven cases of suicide in IITs this year, with IIT Madras accounting for four of them, while IIT Delhi saw two such incidents, and IIT Hyderabad one.
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: Stephen Sunny, a 27-year-old research scholar from Maharashtra, committed suicide in IIT Madras.
March 31: Sachin Kumar, a PhD scholar from West Bengal enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering department, died by suicide in IIT Madras.
March 14: Pushpak, a third-year B Tech student, was found hanging in his Alaknanda hostel room at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.
April 22: Kedar Suresh, a 20-year-old student belonging to Madhya Pradesh, was enrolled in the Second-year of B.Tech Chemical Engineering at IIT Mumbai.
July 10: Ayush Ashna, a 20-year-old student, committed suicide at IIT Delhi.