An inquiry committee set up by the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay has ruled out caste discrimination as the reason for Dalit student Darshan Solanki’s suicide, PTI reported.
The panel hinted at “deteriorating academic performance” being a possible reason behind his taking the extreme step.
On February 12, Solanki had reportedly jumped off the seventh floor of a hostel building. The 18-year-old hailed from Ahmedabad and was enrolled as a first-year student in the Bachelors in Technology (Chemical) course at the institution.
Solanki’s family had alleged that he faced caste-based discrimination at the institute. “His friends came to know that he belongs to a Scheduled Caste, so their behaviour towards him changed,” Darshan Solanki’s sister Jahnvi Solanki said. “They stopped talking to him, they stopped hanging out with him.”
After the family had levelled the allegations, IIT-Bombay constituted a 12-member inquiry committee, headed by Professor Nand Kishore of the Chemistry department, to investigate the circumstances leading to his death. The committee submitted an interim report on March 2 and shared a copy with the Union government, The Indian Express reported.
The committee submitted that it was only Jahnvi Solanki who claimed that her brother spoke about having faced caste discrimination at the institute, reported The Indian Express. “Therefore, other than the statement of [Darshan Solanki’s] sister, there is no specific evidence of direct caste-based discrimination faced by [Darshan Solanki] during his stay at IIT Bombay,” it said in its report.
The committee said that members of the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle and Ambedkarite Students Collective stated that there were instances of caste discrimination at the campus. However, none of them had met Solanki or directly knew if he faced any problems individually, it said.
On February 14, the Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle had termed Solanki’s death as an institutional murder and said that such suicides should not be seen as isolated instances. The collective had said that while it was not clear whether Solanki took the extreme step due to caste discrimination, the death was clearly a fallout of an “institutional issue”.