“Not a personal issue, but an institutional murder.” IIT-B student group on Dalit student’s death by suicide

The recent death of an 18-year-old Dalit student of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is not a personal or individualised issue, but an institutional murder, alleged the student collective in the institute.

Darshan Solanki, a BTech student from Ahmedabad, died apparently after he jumped from the seventh floor of his hostel building at the institute’s campus in Powai on Sunday afternoon.

There was no suicide note and the police have registered a case of accidental death.

“We mourn the loss of an 18 year old dalit student, Darshan Solanki, who joined IIT Bombay 3 months back for his BTech. We must understand that this is not a personal/individualised issue, but an institutional murder. Despite our complaints the institute did not care to make the space inclusive and safe for dalit bahujan adivasi students,” tweeted Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle, IIT Bombay.

“There is a lack of representation of faculty and counsellors from the marginalized,” read the tweet.

“The family and community of the young man would forever wonder what went wrong with their bright child and a premier institute. There will be explanations of how he could not survive the competition, that the academic pressure is ruthless, and the IIT-dream is only for the strong-willed. We do not know what pushed him to this end: caste discrimination or unendurable stress. What we know for sure is this is an institutional issue. Let us stop looking at student suicides across campuses as isolated incidents,” read a statement by APPSC.

It said: “On the night of 12th February, only after pressure from the student community, did the director call for a condolence meeting for Darshan Solanki. The email from the director, informing about the incident, did not even name Darshan, the apathy of the institute even in the light of this grave incident is lost on the student community.”

The group has demanded that the institute thoroughly investigate Darshan’s death and come up with a public report.

More than a hundred students from IIT Bombay did a candle march on the campus and gathered together at the common space of the institute in memory of Darshan at 10 PM, Sunday.