Ambedkarite Students Collective, a group of research scholars in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay issued a statement Wednesday saying that they “stand with the family of Fathima Latheef and condemn the actions of certain faculty of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras.”
Fathima Latheef, a first year student of MA, humanities and development studies (integrated), who came from Kollam, Kerala, was found hanging in her hostel room at IIT-Madras on Saturday morning.
“Casteist and communal behavior of faculty and their discriminatory attitude have led to many institutional murder, there needs to be constant public pressure to make the casteist and Brahmanical academia change its course,” Students Collective said in their statement.
The parents of 19-year-old have alleged that their daughter took the extreme step after being mentally harassed by her faculty member, Sudarsan Padmanabhan, currently working as an associate professor of Philosophy, Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras.
Sudarshan Padmanabhan is the cause of my death,” Fathima Latheef wrote in a suicide note.
Details of Fatima Latheef’s suicide note ‘blame’ two more faculties. Apart from Sudarsan Padmanabhan, who was titled as the ’cause of her death’ in the opening note, Mr Hemachandran Karah and Mr Milind Brahme get mentioned in the following notes.
“Suspend the three accused faculty name by Fathima with immediate effect pending internal and police enquiry,” Ambedkarite Students Collective demanded.
Fathima’s family has also alleged that the faculties taunted her for belonging to the Muslim community.
” My daughter faced casteist and religious discrimination from her faculties. Earlier she said that her name (Muslim name) itself is a problem there”, Abdul Latheef told media.
Twitter erupted after Fathima’s death calling #JusticeForFathimaLatheef. Rights activists and students across Indian universities said that she faced religious discrimination in IIT Madras, terming it as an ‘institutional murder’.
Read the complete text of statement by Ambedkarite Students Collective, IIT Bombay
Condemn the communal and casteist IIT Madras Faculty and Call for action against Islamophobia
We, Ambedkarite Students Collective, IIT Bombay, stand with the family of Fathima Latheef and condemn the actions of certain faculty of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras. Fathima Latheef was first a first-year MA students at Dept of Social Sciences and a native of Kerala, she was forced to take her life on November 9th, 2019 due to the psychological pressure put on her. She names three faculties of HSS, IIT Madras for pushing her to take the most extreme decision – Sudarshan Padmanabhan, Milind Brahme and Hemachandran Karah.
When their distraught family after the news of her death, along with Kollam Mayor, went to the IIT Madras campus and Kotturpuram Police Station, Chennai they were faced with very unhelpful police force. It was only their action of checking her phone that they discovered what Fathima went through. She clearly mentions Sudarshan Padmanabhan and the other two faculty. She had even said to her parents that it had become an issue that her name is Fathima, that she is a Muslim. Her father says in regarding the faculty’s attitude. “ They were disgusted to see a Muslim name topping every test”. She had complained to her parents that the said faculty, Sudarshan Padmanabhan had been discriminating against her in class tests etc because she was Muslim. Because of this she used to be constant sadness and would cry every day, confiding with her twin sister. She said that is was not bearable for her to continue in the institute and wanted to come home.
In this moment of loss and pain, we stand with the family of Fathima Latheef. Casteist and communal behavior of faculty and their discriminatory attitude have led to many institutional murder, there needs to be constant public pressure to make the casteist and Brahmanical academia change its course.
We Demand the following:
* Suspend the three accused faculty name by Fathima with immediate effect pending internal and police enquiry.
* The Tamilnadu government and police should take cognisance of the notes related to the events that led to Fathima Latheef taking her own life.
* Action against Kottopuram Police Officials who were apathetic to her parent’s pleas. The TN Police should respect and hear the case from her parents.
* IIT Madras should call for an internal inquiry about the failures of Department and institutional mechanism to prevent reporting of this case.
* The Ministry of Minority Affairs should take immediate cognizance of the discrimination due to religion and demand all educational institutions to have a Minority Cell for reporting such incidences of discrimination in the future.
* Enact Rohith Act to punish caste, religious and gender-based discrimination in Indian varsities.