Fathima Latheef suicide: Not aware of grievance redressal panel, say protesting IIT-M students

Azhar Moideen, an MA English student, and Justin Joseph, a research scholar, have launched the agitation.
Fathima Latheef was pursuing an integrated MA programme at IIT-M.
Fathima Latheef was pursuing an integrated MA programme at IIT-M.

CHENNAI/T’PURAM/KOLLAM: Two students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras on Monday launched an indefinite hunger strike on the campus, demanding, among other things, setting up of an internal committee to prevent further suicide of students, and a grievance redressal committee in all departments.

Had the long-pending demands been fulfilled earlier, Fathima Latheef would not have committed suicide, they said.

Azhar Moideen, an MA English student, and Justin Joseph, a research scholar, have launched the agitation. Justin Joseph said the director of the institution had told them that already there were committees.

“But neither we nor any student knew about it. The redressal committee does not have any student representation and has three faculties. The director also told us that the committee will deal only with academic problems and not anything else. This is unfair.”

Azhar Moideen, who was with Fathima’s father Abdul Latheef, said that the latter was not satisfied with the police investigation and particularly, after the case was transferred to the Crime Branch.

He also said, “Way back in February itself, the Student Legislative Council submitted our demands to the director after a student committed suicide, which was the fourth one in a short span of time. But our demands have gone unheard.” 

Women’s commission demands detailed probe

The Kerala State Women’s Commission has demanded a comprehensive inquiry into the suicide of Fathima Latheef.

The Commission members Shahida Kamal and M S Thara visited the house of Fathima and consoled her relatives.

The women’s panel said that those who are responsible for the death of the student should be brought to book. 

Kanimozhi, Kollam MP raises issue in Parliament

DMK MP Kanimozhi raised the issue in the Lok Sabha questioning why an FIR has not been filed against any of the professors of the IIT despite Fathima Lateef mentioning naming few of the professors in her note.

Highlighting cases of suicides and alleged caste discrimination in the institute, Kanimozhi said, “It is shameful. What are we teaching? What is the point of these institutions if this is what we are going to do to our students?.”

The lawmaker also noted that 52 students have committed suicide in the IITs in past 10 years and 72 cases of caste discrimination have been filed in these institutes. Kanimozhi also highlighted about further action to be taken.

“Her cell phone screensaver named the professors but not a single FIR or arrest has been made. Why was the professor whose name was mentioned not even called for an interrogation?” she asked. 

Union Human Resources Minister Ramesh Pokriyal promised a thorough probe into the case after DMK MP Kanimozhi raised the matter in the Lok Sabha. N K Premachandran, MP, on Monday passed an adjournment motion in Parliament regarding the mysterious death of Fathima Latheef at IIT-Madras, as he represents the constituency she hailed from.

Drawing the complete attention of the house, the MP said the incident was not an isolated case and that a series of such incidents have been reported against the same institution. 

The people responsible for the incident should be probed and punished, N K Premachandran added.

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