IIT Madras professor suspended after enquiry committee finds him responsible for death of research scholar

Professor Ashish Kumar Sen was suspended after a five-member enquiry committee found him responsible for the death of research scholar Sachin Kumar Jain in March this year

November 28, 2023 04:07 pm | Updated 09:39 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of IIT-Madras

A view of IIT-Madras | Photo Credit: B. Velankanni Raj

The management of the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (IIT-M) has suspended Ashish Kumar Sen, a professor of the Mechanical Engineering Department, based on an enquiry report submitted by a five-member committee, which found him solely responsible for the death of Sachin Kumar Jain, a research scholar in March this year.

An institute spokesperson confirmed that the professor, who was Sachin Kumar Jain’s guide, has been placed under suspension based on a direction from the Board of Governors, and after following all due procedures.

Sachin Kumar Jain, a 31-year-old PhD scholar at the Mechanical Engineering Department, died by suicide on March 31. His brother Bhavesh Jain, had written a six-page letter to the director of IIT Madras, V Kamakoti, alleging that his brother was under “undue pressure” from his PhD guide Ashish Kumar Sen. Mr. Jain said his brother had been upset with the treatment he was receiving from his guide. Mr. Jain and fellow students at IIT Madras also sought a detailed probe into Sachin’s death.

Following this, a five-member enquiry committee was constituted with former Director General of Police, G. Thilagavathi as chairperson, and consisting of retired IAS officers Sabitha and Kannagi Packianathan, Professor Ravindra Giddu and Amal, a student representative to enquire into the circumstances which led to the death. The committee looked into the death, and held inquiries with fellow students, wardens, counsellors, faculty members and relatives and friends of Sachin. The committee then submitted a report with 35 findings to the IIT management.

Sources said the committee found Sen was solely responsible for the death of the research scholar. Sachin was a topper at Jadavpur University. He was supposed to complete his research at IIT-M in five years but, the committee found, it had been delayed to eight years due to Sen’s actions. The guide reportedly made fun of and humiliated Sachin in front of other research scholars. The professor also isolated him from other lab activities.

On the day of he died by suicide, Sachin had submitted his paper, but Sen had asked a junior to peer review it, which upset Sachin a lot, said sources.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104, Tele-MANAS 14416. and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050)

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