Kerala

Dead student’s family points the finger at IIT teacher

‘Note from victim’s phone says teacher is reason for death’

The family of Fathima Latheef has alleged that the 18-year-old, who was found hanging in her hostel room at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, killed herself after facing harassment from a faculty member.

A suicide note retrieved from her phone says “her teacher is the reason for her death”, her father Abdul Latheef said at a press meet here on Tuesday.

Rank holder

Fathima, a first-year student of humanities and a rank holder, joined the IIT in July 2019 and was found dead in her room on Saturday.

Mr. Latheef alleged that the Tamil Nadu police have been trying to make a mess of the investigation and authorities are deliberately spreading the news that Fathima committed suicide since she could not score good marks in the first semester examination.

“But she was the class topper and had the highest marks in her class even for her last examination. When we tried to talk to her friends they gave contradictory statements and seemed very scared.”

Great concern

Pointing out that more than 10 students have committed suicide in the IIT, Madras, in last four years, Kollam Mayor V. Rajendrababu, who accompanied the family to Chennai, said it was a matter of great concern.

According to her family, the IIT has suspended the classes of her batch for the next 45 days following her death and all the students have been asked to go home.

When Fathima’s sister Aysha, Mr. Rajendrababu and other relatives reached the police station for completing the autopsy formalities, they found her phone casually kept at a corner.

“The mobile was switched off and the police hadn’t bothered to check it even after 14 hours of her death or list it as an evidence. When we charged the phone and switched it on, we were shocked to see the screensaver.

While browsing through the notes, we could find incriminating evidence that my daughter was facing constant harassment from this particular teacher,” they said. According to a kitchen staffer, Fathima was seen crying in the mess hall and a woman was seen consoling her hours before her death.

“She usually goes to mess at 8 p.m., but that day she was very late for dinner and reached around 9.30 p.m.”

The family has approached Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Minister J. Mercykutty Amma demanding immediate intervention and a fair probe.

Action sought

The faculty members responsible for the death should be charged with murder, said Ms. Mercykutty Amma in a statement. “There are complaints that the girl was subjected to communal discrimination by her teachers. A memorandum has been handed over to the Chief Minister requesting government intervention in the matter,” she said.

(Suicide prevention helpline: Disha: 1056, 0471-2552056)

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Printable version | Mar 20, 2020 9:30:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/dead-students-family-points-the-finger-at-iit-teacher/article29959298.ece

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