IIT-B Dalit student’s death | Darshan’s father writes to institute director seeking outside probe, rejecting internal panel report

The deceased student’s father says the internal committee report has left him disheartened and dashed his hopes of justice

March 25, 2023 01:48 am | Updated 01:48 am IST - New Delhi

File photo of Rameshbhai Solanki, father of IIT student Darshan Solanki who allegedly died by suicide at IIT Bombay.

File photo of Rameshbhai Solanki, father of IIT student Darshan Solanki who allegedly died by suicide at IIT Bombay. | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI

Rameshbhai Solanki, the father of 18-year-old Darshan Solanki, who allegedly died by suicide at IIT-Bombay in February, on March 24 wrote to institute Director Subhasis Chaudhuri seeking “with folded hands” that the probe into his son’s death be handed over to an “outside” State or Central agency.

After the death of the first-year Chemical Engineering student, his family alleged he faced caste-based discrimination on campus. Following this, more students from IIT-B and other IITs have come out with instances of caste discrimination on campuses.

IIT-B constituted an internal panel to look into the death, following which the panel submitted an interim report on March 2 ruling out any caste discrimination in his case.

Mr. Rameshbhai, in his letter to the Director said, “I had some hopes that the administration would do justice to my son. But the internal committee report has left me disheartened and dashed my hopes of justice. I completely reject this report. This report is not only false but inhuman.”

He continued, “The report holds my son responsible for his own death. What kind of institution, which promises to provide a safe and nurturing environment to its students especially from ST/SC background, blames them for the hardships they face?”

ALSO READ |IIT-Bombay student body rejects interim report, faculty speak out

Mr. Rameshbhai added that the institute seemed to blame his son for “not knowing how to use computers and for not being conversant in English”. He said, “With great sleight of hand the institute labels my son lazy and not hardworking”.

Within days of the interim report, The Hindu had reported that IIT-B had conducted detailed surveys of SC and ST students months before Darshan started classes. The students had highlighted widespread casteism on campus.

Rejecting the internal panel’s interim report on Darshan’s death, his father pointed out that the panel had no member outside of IIT-B, making it biased; and that the panel had recorded the family’s statements as a “formality” without the report reflecting what they had submitted.

Darshan’s sister had submitted before the panel that he used to face caste-based discrimination and that he was mad fun of for asking about computers. In addition, a student senior to Darshan had submitted that he was discriminated against by his roommate after finding out about his entrance test rank.

Further insisting that the internal panel had not taken all evidence on record, Mr. Rameshbhai said, “We understand that IIT Bombay has a plan to deny us justice in the court of law on the basis of this fake, biased and one-sided report of the committee.”

While Mr. Solanki has called for the institute to hand over the probe to an “outside” State agency or Central agency, the Maharashtra Government has already formed a Special Investigation Team in Mumbai, which is looking into the case.

Last week, Mr. Solanki had filed a complaint seeking an FIR against the institute for “enabling” discrimination on campus. The complaint has been sent to the SIT by the Powai Police for further action.

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