Bias against Dalit scholar alleged

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 | Rahiba R Parveen | New Delhi

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is simmering over the suicide of an M Phil student JM Muthu Krishnan who was found hanging at a house in Munirka. As soon as the news was out, all the political groups mainly the Left students organisation tried stirring up sentiments by linking it to the Rohith Vemula issue and harassment of a Dalit scholar. Krishna had committed suicide outside JNU campus and the incident had come to light on Monday evening.

Social networking sites were abuzz over his death and speculations were being made that since he was Dalit, he must have been targeted and ended his life. However, the father of the 29-year-old student, who reached the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to identify the body said that he was “not convinced” that his son had committed suicide.

The JNU Student’s Union (JNUSU) while condoling the demise of Muthu Krishnan underlined his long association with various student’s movement against the Central Government. “We express our deep condolences to the family and friends of Muthu, in this moment of grief. Hailing from a Dalit family and a first generation research scholar himself, Muthu has been a part of all struggles to keep university gates open for the marginalised. He was a student of HCU, before coming to JNU and was active in the ‘Justice for Rohith’ movement,” JNUSU president Mohit Pandey said in a statement.

“Muthu has been vocal about the systematic alienation of students from marginalised sections from higher education. The latest policy offensive in the form of regressive UGC notification and insensitivity of the university administration is creating an environment of unease and anxiety. JNU administration has shown complete lack of sensitivity in the entire matter.”

His father Jeevanandham in his written complaint to the police contended that his son did not end his life. “By looking at the dead body, it was not evident that Muthu Krishnan had committed suicide by hanging himself.”

“On reaching Delhi, I was told by my son’s friends that he was facing constant caste-based harassment and discrimination in his academic pursuits from his centre and the JNU administration,” he alleged.

He said that it was his sons dream to pursue education at JNU and took odd jobs at his native Salem in Tamil Naidu to support his education at the Hyderabad Central University.

While the father has said that his son got admission after several attempts at JNU in July, 2016 in the Centre of Historical Studies, he has stressed that he (Muthu) was not suffering from any mental illness and “was not under any medication for depression or any other mental illness.

“The death of my son has taken place under suspicious circumstances and I request the concerned authorises to conduct a thorough investigation in the suspicious death (not death).”

Krishnan, hailing from Tamil Naidu Salem district had severely criticised the varsity’s admission policy in a Facebook post days before taking the extreme step. In his post which has gone viral, student Muthu Krishnan had also slammed the recent prohibitory order by JNU authorities banning protests at the administration block. “There is no equality in MPhil/PhD admissions, there is no equality in viva-voce, there is only denial of equality, denying Prof Sukhadeo Thorat recommendation, denying students protest places in Ad-block, denying education to the marginals. When Equality is denied everything is denied,” he had written in the Facebook post on March 1.

Police, however, is claiming that he was not associated with any of the politically active groups on JNU campus and there is no prima facie evidence indicating the university administration’s role in the issue.

Krishnan, completed his MPhil from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) in 2015 before joining JNU for his PhD. The student, a resident of JNU’s Jhelum hostel, was found hanging from the ceiling fan at a friend’s residence in South Delhi’s Munirka area on Monday.

JNUSU has demanded a “proper and transparent” enquiry be undertaken to ascertain the circumstances and reasons behind the death of Muthu. While they alleged that the Vice-Chancellor M Jagadeesh nor his team had visited the spot, they said “In this moment of grief, the real tribute to Muthu would be to carry forward the struggle against systematic inequality and alienation of the marginalised which Muthu was so deeply concerned about JNU”.

JNU adminsitration in statement expressed “deep sense of shock and anguish” in a condolence statement the death of Krishnan.

“This meeting of the teachers and staff members of Jawaharlal Nehru University expresses its deep sense of shock and anguish at the untimely and sad demise of Muthukrishnan J, MPhil student of Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences of the University.”



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