As political parties including the DMK staged protests on Friday pressing their demand for "a transparent probe" into the suicide of an IIT Madras student, the institution said it is extending full cooperation to the police investigation, now transferred to the Central Crime Branch.
Asserting that it was committed to fair play, IIT Madras deplored social media trolling and rumours against it besides the "media trial" over the death of first year humanities student Fathima Latheef, who ended her life in the hostel on 9 November. While no suicide note was found, a note on her mobile phone purportedly mentioned some faculty names as being the cause of her death.
Political parties have demanded a thorough probe after the family of the student, who hailed from Kerala, accused a faculty member of the IIT-Madras of driving her to commit suicide.
A day after the probe into the suicide was transferred to the Central Crime Branch, police officials visited the campus in connection with the investigation. Cadres of the DMK youth wing, Congress affiliated National Students Union of India and CPI's student wing, All India Students Federation staged protest demonstrations in front of the institute seeking justice for Latheef. DMK cadres held placards embossed with images of Fathima and slogans like "besiege IIT protest; seeking justice for Fathima Latheef."
Several others, including women activists waved placards that alleged,"it is not a suicide, it is institutional murder." Raising slogans condemning the Tamil Nadu and Central government, they demanded justice for the student.
Students of IIT-Madras have also started an online petition demanding justice for Fathima. They have raised several demands, including independent inquiry to be set up by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) and the Minority Commission into the possibilities of academic harassment and discrimination on the basis of religion. The students have also urged the institution to implement the SC/ST/OBC/minority Students Grievance Welfare cell at IIT-M, News18 said.
Meanwhile, Fathima's father Abdul Latheef has alleged that his daughter was discriminated against for her religious identity. Manitheneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) leader MH Jawahirullah told India Today that Abdul was in touch with him and claimed that Fathima earlier also complained about the teacher to the head of the department. Jawahirullah said that the same faculty member had once graded Fathima unfairly, which was corrected after she brought it to the notice of head of the department.
The IIT Madras, in a statement, here said the students, faculty, staff, and residents were deeply saddened and "extremely perturbed by the unfortunate and untimely demise of our student, Fathima Lathief, and the events that unfolded thereafter."As soon as the incident came to its knowledge, police was informed immediately and they were being extended full cooperation, the prestigious institution said. "IIT Madras is committed to do whatever is required as per law and ensure fair-play."
However, the social media trolling against it, the faculty members and students and "trial by the media, even before the conclusion of the police investigation, is gravely demoralising..." it said and "tarnished the reputation," of one of the finest institutes in the country.
Asserting that its faculty is known for high quality, integrity and fairness, IIT Madras said: "We reiterate that we are fully cooperating with the police investigation... our humble appeal to all concerned is not to initiate or spread any rumours about the institute" and let the inquiry be completed.
The institute said it continued to mourn the loss of the promising young student and assured continuation of all efforts to ensure the physical and mental well-being of its students, faculty and staff, Police personnel were deployed in front of the main entrance of the IIT Madras in view of the protests. The institute also increased the number of private guards.
MK Stalin had on Thursday demanded a transparent and independent probe into the episode. PMK chief S Ramadoss had sought investigation into allegation of harassment by the faculty. VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan had said the incident should not be seen as suicide but "institutional murder."
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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2019 22:15:25 IST