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Amid protests IIT Madras’ student suicide case moved to CCB

According to a report, more than 20,000 students have committed suicide between 2014 and 2016, with IITs across the country reporting 52 suicides over the past decade 

Amid protests IIT Madras student suicide case moved to CCB
Chennai, First Published Nov 14, 2019, 7:26 PM IST
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Chennai: The Students Federation of India (SFI) on Thursday staged a protest outside the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, demanding a fair investigation in the case of Fathima Latheef’s death, who allegedly committed suicide on Friday.

Speaking to the media, one of the protestors alleged that this was the fifth suicide in the campus since last year and that professors have also committed suicide in the past. "The management has not conducted any investigation and informed the family of the victim that the suicide was caused due to physical illness. However, the fact is that the victim left a suicide note in her phone, where she has accused a teaching staff", he alleged.

Fathima Latheef, a student of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, committed suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan in her hostel room on Friday (Nov 8), police said.

Latheef, a native of Kerala was pursuing an integrated MA program at the institute, police said.

A statement from IIT Madras said: "It is with deep grief and sadness that IIT Madras has to inform the passing away of a first-year undergraduate student of Humanities and Social Sciences Department".

Latheef was staying at the Sarayu hostel on campus. Following the incident, police, in its primary investigation had revealed that Fatima was separated from her family for the first time and had scored less marks in her internal exam.

Chennai Police have transferred the case involving the suicide of an IIT Madras student to the Central Crime Branch (CCB), after Fathima’s parents recovered a mobile phone note that named a member of the faculty as the reason for her death. The parents have also claimed that three faculty members had subjected their daughter to religious persecution. The police have conducted preliminary interrogations of her friends and few members of the faculty.

"We have constituted a special team. ADC Megalina will be the investigation officer and the team has experienced officers because it is a sensitive case," AK Viswanathan, the Chennai Police commissioner, said.

"We are sending the phone for scientific investigation. Only after that can we confirm or deny the mobile phone message her parents showed with the name of a faculty member," a senior officer said, according to a media report.

This is the fifth suicide at IIT Madras in the past 11 months; four have been students and the fifth was a woman faculty member. The victims included students from the BTech and MTech streams and a PhD scholar.

According to reports, the students had complained of academic pressure, depression and stress. The faculty member reportedly had personal issues.

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