Congress MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Thursday demanded probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the death of a student of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay to find out whether it was a case of murder, caste discrimination or ragging.
After meeting the Ahmedabad-based family members of Darshan Solanki (18), who allegedly committed suicide by jumping off the seventh floor of a IIT hostel building on Sunday, Mevani said the Dalit community suspects it to be a case of murder, caste discrimination or ragging.
The Congress leader from Gujarat said the Dalit community has given a call for a nationwide candle march on February 19 in support of Solanki, who was a first-year student of BTech (chemical) course.
A Mumbai Police team visited Solanki’s house here on Thursday to record the statements of his family members in connection with his death. Mevani said, “Darshan’s father Ramesh Solanki told me that he was not even allowed to see the face of his dead son when he went there to collect the body. He was told different things over phone by the institute, and the IIT Bombay professors told different stories. The entire issue appears suspicious.”
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He claimed officials were not ready to hand over the papers regarding the accidental death case registered at a police station in Mumbai to the student’s father, and the dean and other officials of the IIT did not behave with him in the sensitive manner required in the given situation.
“Since the incident is suspicious, the student’s family members and the Dalit community believe this could be the case of murder, caste-based discrimination and ragging,” Mevani said.
He said the government should form an SIT comprising “non-corrupt police officers with integrity” to conduct a probe into the case and to find out the truth. Mevani also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene into the matter, meet the grieving family members and order the kind of investigation demanded by them.
He said Solanki was a bright student who managed to secure admission in the prestigious institute at a time when improper implementation of the reservation policy has led to only a few students from the Dalit and tribal communities getting admission in such institutes.
“Probably, Darshan was a victim of the similar form of discrimination experienced by Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi due to which he committed suicide at the IIT Bombay,” Mevani claimed. Vemula, a research scholar of the University of Hyderabad, allegedly hanged himself in a hostel room in 2016.
Tadvi, a second-year gynaecology student of TN Topiwala National Medical College in Mumbai, allegedly committed suicide in her hostel room in 2019.