Fathima Lateef’s suicide institutional murder: IIT-B students

Abha Goradia
Fathima had joined IIT-M in August.

Describing the recent suicide of a student at IIT-Madras as “institutional murder”, students of IIT-Bombay on Tuesday held a protest on the campus while accusing the institute administration of indulging in “casteist and Islamophobic behaviour” and of harbouring other discriminatory attitudes.

The suicide of Fathima Latheef, a first-year student at IIT-Madras on November 9, resonated with IIT-B, where a student, Aniket Ambhore, had committed suicide in September 2014.

“We call the case of Ms Fathima an institutional murder because institutions of higher education have failed to provide constitutional safeguards and institutional mechanisms for students from SC, ST, OBC, Muslim, LGBTQ and other minority communities, who enter these premier institutes despite lack of socio-cultural capital,” said a statement issued by the students.

Just as Fathima’s parents have alleged that communal attitudes of faculty-led their daughter to take her life, Ambhore’s parents had also claimed that their son faced caste harassment on campus.

Ambhore, a student of electrical engineering, had fallen to his death from the sixth floor of hostel 13, on September 4, 2014. An SC student, he was alleged to have committed suicide. After his parents wrote to the IIT director, a three-member committee was set up by the administration, led by professor A K Suresh (department of chemical engineering). The committee had submitted its report on November 10, 2015. It is yet to be made public.

While demanding that the report be made public and also the action recommended, the students have launched a ‘Forum for Justice’ to address and give voice to their grievances.