IIT-Madras cancels classes for a day following night-long protest after student’s suicide

The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) cancelled classes for a day on Tuesday following overnight protests by students inside the campus over “callous handling” of the suicide of a second-year PG student by the management.

The students called off their protests on Tuesday morning only after IIT-M Director Prof V Kamakoti addressed them and gave a categorical assurance to look into their concerns and various demands raised by them. Since students were awake and protesting the whole of Monday night, the institute declared a “non-instructional day” on Tuesday.

It all began with the suicide of a 24-year-old PG student of the electrical engineering department hailing from Maharashtra on Monday afternoon. The institute also reported an attempt to suicide by another student on Sunday, but police said the two incidents aren’t connected. The said student is currently under treatment.

“The 24-year-old student is believed to have ended his life due to personal issues. He also kept to himself by not interacting much with his family members and friends in the institute. We have filed a case of unnatural death under CrPC 174. The investigation is on,” a senior police officer told.

Students, according to sources in IIT-M, were agitated with the manner that the management dealt with suicide cases by not even informing them and began marching towards the Gajendra Circle, a landmark, in the campus. The sources said crowd swelled within hours and the students brought up several other demands following which the institution’s director appeared before them in the morning.

“We demanded that there be transparency in such incidents. Students and student representatives should be informed of the happenings in the institute. The director has promised to look into our demands,” a student told DH on the condition of anonymity.

Utilising the opportunity, the students placed various demands including increasing the facilities at the institute’s hospital, a pharmacy that function round the clock, more opportunities for co-curricular activities, addressing issues between students and professors, appointment of an external expert committee to study the mental health of IIT-M students, and canteen issues.

“After giving a patient hearing to the protesting students, the director promised that an Open House will be convened soon to discuss the problems faced by students,” the source added.

IIT-Madras Director Kamakoti Veezhinathan addressing the gathering on Monday morning after a night long protest of students.

In a statement, the IIT-M expressed its sincere condolences and said it stands united in grief along with the friends and family of the deceased student.

“The Institute endeavours and assures to improve and sustain the well-being of the students/scholars, faculty and staff on campus while constantly evaluating the various support systems in place. The parents of the student have reached Chennai and we request everyone to please respect the privacy of the family at this unfortunate moment,” it added.

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