Tamil Nadu

Dalit student suicide: When a similar fate befell a Salem family

Senthil never disclosed caste discrimination on the University of Hyderabad campus, say parentsPalanisamy and Deivanai. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

Senthil never disclosed caste discrimination on the University of Hyderabad campus, say parentsPalanisamy and Deivanai. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan   | Photo Credit: E_Lakshmi Narayanan;E_Lakshmi Narayanan

Eight years after the mysterious death of P. Senthil Kumar (28), a research scholar at the University of Hyderabad, the family lives in his memory.

He was the first person from among his community to pursue education. His parents, Palanisamy (60) and Deivanai (51), earn their livelihood by rearing pigs at their home in Jalakandapuram, about 36 km from here. They borrowed money for his studies and he finally pursued a Ph.D. in Physics in the university. Their dreams were shattered when news of his suicide reached them on February 24, 2008. “For our family, it is an irreparable loss,” said Mr. Palanisamy, who has little money to treat his heart ailment. He said Senthil never disclosed the caste discrimination on the campus when he visited home. “We were informed about his death after a week — that too not by the university authorities,” Mr. Palanisamy said.

Deivanai, former councillor in the Jalakandapuram town panchayat, remembers Senthil as a studious boy who dreamt of becoming a scientist like the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. “He was an outstanding student in the three colleges he studied in. We did not think he would take his own life.” She said that even the copy of the post-mortem report and his belongings were not handed over to them despite many requests. Quoting Senthil’s friend, Ms. Deivanai alleged that he was not allotted a supervisor, was asked to sit on the floor and even his submissions were not evaluated, only because he was a Dalit. The recent suicide of another student shows that caste discrimination is rampant in the university, the parents said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 8:22:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Dalit-student-suicide-When-a-similar-fate-befell-a-Salem-family/article14008106.ece

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