Ambedkar Students’ Association in University of Hyderabad has submitted a representation to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes demanding a thorough investigation of the death of Asarelli Harshavardhan, a Master’s student from the university who died by suicide on Saturday.
The students body strongly demanded that the circumstances that led to the suicide must be probed and justice must be ensured for Harshavardhan who came from an SC family from Dewaluvada village in Kottapalli, Ramagundam.
According to reports, Harshvardhan’s friends and family claimed that he was upset after he found out that he had been given ‘zero’ attendance for his online classes. The family claimed that the student was shocked to find that he had been marked absent since he had been attending all the classes.
Ambedkar Students’ Association also demanded an immediate return of students from marginalised communities into the campus irrespective of their course and departments and suspension of online classes until marginalised students access the university resources.
ASA noted in the letter to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes that the entry of marginalised students in the university has always been restricted by the discriminatory practices of the University of Hyderabad administration.
The letter was signed by ASA president Iniyavan M and convener Gopi Swamy.
“The discrepancies in the filling of reserved seats are an excellent example in this regard. With the same legacy of discrimination, the university administration shifted to an online mode of learning in the purview of pandemic situation,” it said.
The administration since then has been persistently apprised by the students’ community about its disruptive policies towards online mode of learning, ASA accused.
“Especially about its insensitivity towards the students from marginalised communities. Being conscious of the situation that marginalised students are undergoing in this online mode of learning; the university administration has been a watchdog to various anti-student practices that has been autocratically followed by some departments,” the letter reads.
ASA complained that the Department of Telugu had been evidently violating the policy by maintaining the attendance in online classes while the task force guidelines discouraged the practice of marking attendance. Of which, Asarelli Harshavardhan studying in the first year in MA Telugu has been forced to kill himself.
The FIR No.20/2021 registered in Kottapalli police station in Ramagundam District mentioned the distress of Harshavardhan with respect to the poor attendance in online classes.
“As a newly enrolled student, who has yet not stepped into the university campus he was likely to be under-informed of the guidelines of the task force towards the relaxation on the terms of attendance. Here again, communication that has been highly inaccessible through digital means and the approach of the faculties to stick to their autocracy has been keeping students from marginalised to an uninformed state,” the letter reads.
ASA also noted that the Harshavardhan hailed from a Scheduled Caste community and he joined University of Hyderabad with an aspiration to study in an eminent institution.
“Harshavardhan’s hope of an empowered future has been pushed to death. The insensitivity of the administration and the impunity of the Departments over violating the guidelines cannot be left unquestioned over the reason of lack of resources induced by his social location,” it added.
ASA further said that the silence of the administration over his death elucidates that they have no concerns towards the Dalit students who are studying in their institution.
The students body called the death of Harshavardhan an institutional murder.
“The circumstances that led to suicide must be probed and justice must be ensured for Asarelli Harshavardhan. The commission should take this is seriously and the commission must ensure the immediate return of students from marginalised communities to the university. Any further delay would only aggravate the problem and that would affect the students miserably. The commission must also direct the university to restrain from online class,” ASA demanded.