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Friday, June 3, 2011

38 - 23rd April 2008 - Father alleges caste prejudice behind IIT-K student’s suicide - Express India

Posted: Apr 23, 2008 at 0050 hrs IST

Kanpur, April 22 A week after Prashant Kumar, a student of the Indian Institute of Technology- Kanpur, committed suicide, his father alleged on Tuesday that ragging and “caste bias” in the institute drove his son to take the extreme step.
Speaking to mediapersons, Sunder Lal Kureel, father of the deceased, held the authorities of the institute responsible for his son’s death and said: “A major reason behind my son going into depression was the prevailing bias at the IIT-K. He often felt humiliated and ignored in the presence of students belonging to higher castes.”

He said that his son used to often complain about it during their telephonic conversations.

Demanding a CBI inquiry or a probe by an independent agency, Kureel, who is also the Regional Director in the Office of National Savings Institute, said that the counselling cell at the institute was dysfunctional. “On four occasions I visited the counselling cell but was surprised to find it locked every time,” he said, adding that ragging was rampant at the institute.

“My son was under tremendous pressure and he was in depression due to ragging carried out within the institute,” he said and added that his son was a bright student but fell victim of depression only after he got admission at the prestigious institute.

Kureel also questioned the authenticity of the suicide note purportedly written by his son. “Where is the suicide note? Before the parents could enter inside the room, the door had been broken. When I entered inside along with the SP (City), several things in the room were lying scattered,” he added.

The authorities of the IIT-K, however, quickly rejected Kureel’s allegations. Rejecting the alleged caste biasness at the institute Deputy Director Kripa Shankar said that academic pressure had led Kumar to commit suicide.

“Out of the five students who have committed suicide, three belonged to socially advanced strata of society,” Shankar said. He also showed a letter written by Kureel on November 11, 2007 in which the latter stated that Kumar was not in a sound physical and mental condition and should be hence exempted from appearing in the first semester examinations.

“At the same time, on ground of viral fever, Kureel was seeking a six-month leave for his son, which indicated that things were not as smooth as he has claimed,” added Shankar.

Shankar also said that the deceased had often contacted the counselling cell, which had advised him to take the required medical treatment. “But both Kumar and his father were unwilling to meet the guest faculty psychiatrist,” Shankar said, adding that despite depression, the student was reluctant to take proper medication. He also denied prevalence of ragging in the campus.