Two students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, who began a protest on Monday to demand an inquiry into a suicide on campus, ended their fast on the second day, PTI reported. Humanities student Fathima Latheef was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her hostel room on November 9.
Azhar Moideen, a final-year humanities student who was protesting, said they called off the fast after the dean assured them that two of their demands would be met “at the earliest”. These demands were the setting up of a complaints and redressal system at the institute, and a study on the mental health problems faced by students on campus.
Moideen said the dean had sent a mail to all the students, telling them that these two demands would be met soon. He said that an investigation into the suspected role of the faculty in the suicide would be discussed later with the institute director, who was currently not in town. A note on Latheef’s mobile phone had blamed some faculty members.
Justin Joseph, who is pursuing his PhD in humanities, was the other student who began the indefinite fast on Monday, They had demanded an internal, unbiased investigation into the suicide.
Moideen had told PTI earlier: “Our main demand is an internal inquiry into the conduct of faculty; Fathima’s family in their letter to the director [of IIT-Madras] had sought an internal probe into the conduct of faculty and we are backing their demand, there are other demands as well.” Other students soon joined the protestors.
Chinta Bar, an independent student organisation at IIT-Madras, also tweeted that it had called off the strike. “We are calling off the hunger strike with the hope that there will be no more deaths in IIT Madras,” it said. “We thank the student community and the media for supporting us in this endeavour. Long Live students unity!”
Meanwhile, a special team of the Crime Branch, Crime Investigation Department, or CB-CID, was formed on Tuesday for investigation into the suicide, ANI reported. It interrogated three professors at the IIT-Madras guest house inside the campus.
Abdul Latheef, the student’s father, has given a memorandum to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, demanding government intervention in the investigation.