The rights group emphasized that in case of Darshan Solanki’s death the Special Investigation Team must be completely transparent in their functioning and provide all available information and statements of any persons concerning this enquiry with his parents
A top rights group of the country, People’s Union for Civil Liberties on Saturday expressed extreme distress by the alleged suicide of Darshan Solanki, first generation Dalit student, of first year B. Tech, at IIT Bombay on February 12 2023.
In a statement, PUCL’s Maharashtra chapter said that Solanki had confided in his elder sister and aunt about the discrimination he faced at the institute.
“What pushed this young 18 year old student to take this drastic step is no different than what propelled Ankit Ambore (2014 in IIT Bombay), Dr. Payal Tadvi (2019), Rohit Vimula (2016 ) or Senthil Kumar (2008) or hundreds others.”
The rights group emphasized that in case of Darshan Solanki’s death the Special Investigation Team must be completely transparent in their functioning and provide all available information and statements of any persons concerning this enquiry with his parents.
“Darshan’ parents should be allowed to meet his roommate, friends, faculties as they desire. They must be provided substantial amount of interim relief immediately. And all the digital devices of Darshan, emails and correspondence must be secured, and his parents must be provided proper copies of the same.”
The statement said that the data shared in Parliament by Minister of Education show 122 student deaths by suicide in years between 2014 and 2021 from Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs).
The data also points out that larger proportion (68) of deaths of students are from socially and economically backward communities, indicating entrenched Institutionalized Caste Discrimination which drives the students to this drastic end.
“Given the entire situation existing in various Higher Education Institutes, what is essentially required is providing social and economic justice to students from marginalized communities,” PUCL said.
Simply holding some individuals responsible for the acts of Caste discrimination and providing solutions within criminal justice system, the statement said, as proposed by State and some social organizations will only result in shifting the responsibility from society, Institutes and Governments to few individuals, but provides no way forward to strike at the roots of Caste discrimination.
The statement said that what is required is to provide the students from marginalized communities academic institutes which are determined to counter caste hierarchy by institutionalizing measures and mechanisms to create an atmosphere which is inclusive. “Atmosphere wherein the entire student community understands the caste discrimination which is ingrained in our society and resolves to counter it first by understanding how the caste hierarchies operate. There is need to combat the caste blindness prevalent in dominant castes in society.
The PUCl said that there is a complete lack of provisions to protect students from marginalized community, and there is need to evolve strategies at Institutional level like introducing curriculum which includes fundamental classroom courses, which bring awareness on issues of discriminations faced due to Caste, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, transformative justice as embedded in Indian constitution.