The IIT-Bombay on Tuesday strongly refuted claims suggesting that ‘discrimination’ caused the death by suicide of a Final Year B.Tech. Dalit student on its campus on February 12 or allegations that it amounted to ‘institutional murder’.
“Based on initial inputs from friends (of Darshan Solanki, 18), there is no indication that the student faced any such discrimination. It is wrong to make such accusations when the police are still investigating the case. Please wait for the completion of the ongoing police investigation as well as an internal investigation by IIT-B which will be done in a time-bound manner,” said an official spokesperson.
The reaction came a day after the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle-IITB (APPSC-IITB) issued a three-pager detailing alleged caste discrimination on the campus, the challenges facing students from the reserved categories, certain lapses by the IIT-B authorities and related issues, and demanding their immediate resolution.
Referring to Solanki’s suicide, the APPSC-IITB termed it as ‘an institutional issue’, as students from non-urban, non-English speaking backgrounds, oppressed castes (SC/ST) and low-income families “face immense harassment and discrimination” on the campus from students, faculties and employees.
“The IIT-B takes utmost precautions to make the campus as inclusive as possible. IIT-B has zero tolerance for any discrimination by faculty. Caste identity is never disclosed to anyone (whether students or faculty) once the admission is done,” said the spokesperson.
Plus, the institution sensitizes students to not seek proxy information such as ranks in entrance exams, issue strong warnings against discrimination from the time the students enter IIT-B, and while no steps can be 100 per cent effective, discrimination by students, if at all it occurs, is an exception, the IIT-B said in a strong statement.
It said that the IIT-B has taken multiple steps over the years to support and protect the mental health of the students, has an SC/ST cell where students can reach in case of any issues, including discrimination.
Besides, the IIT-B also runs an active mentor programme which reaches out to all the new students, it added.
Students are encouraged right from the orientation programme onwards to seek support from student counsellors at the Student Wellness Centre, or from the hospitals whenever needed.
“There have been very few complaints to the cell, whether against faculty or other students, over the past many years, and only one case was found to have substance and strict action has been taken,” the IIT-B stated.
Although some who need it do not seek support due to societal norms, many students have benefited from the support, and the IIT-B is working hard to ensure everyone who needs support gets it, the spokesperson said.
(This article has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline)