IIT Bombay Dalit student’s death: Two days after the Mumbai Police filed a chargesheet in the suicide of IIT Bombay (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay) student Darshan Solanki, accusing his batchmate, Arman Iqbal Khatri, of abetment, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on June 1 closed its investigation into the matter. Sources said that the panel was “satisfied” with the report submitted by the Special Investigation Team.
Mr. Solanki, a Dalit student from Ahmedabad, was a first-year Chemical Engineering student at IIT-B and died by suicide on February 12, amid allegations from his family members that he was subjected to various forms of caste-based discrimination during his time at the institute.
The police said they had found chats between the two showing they had fought over Mr. Solanki’s remarks against Mr. Khatri’s religion. A chargesheet was filed this week in a special court in Mumbai, charging Mr. Khatri with abetment to suicide and relevant sections of the SC/ST Act.
Acknowledging the probe by the police as outlined in the chargesheet, the NCSC on June 1 decided to close its investigation into the case, which had been launched within two days of Mr. Solanki’s death. One of the sources said, “The Commission is “satisfied” with the probe conducted. Further, a chargesheet has been filed and now the matter is with the courts. Hence, the panel has closed its inquiry.”
Officials added, however, that the Commission will continue monitoring whether the compensation mandated under the SC/ST Act is transferred to the family. One official said this amount of a little over ₹4 lakh will be sent to the family within a week.
Hours after the NCSC hearing in New Delhi, Rameshbhai Solanki, the 18-year-old’s father, told The Hindu that it was disappointing to see no authority was willing to probe the institutional causes for his son’s death.
“At the NCSC hearing today, the police told the Commission that there was no specific instance of caste discrimination against my son and the professors from IIT-B echoed the same thing. The Commission then told me that we can no longer do anything in the matter because charges had been filed,” Rameshbhai said.
He said, “The police and the institute kept saying that the only reasons for my son’s death were his alleged poor grades and his fight with Arman.”
He added that the Commission did not allow his lawyer at the hearing. “But still, I told them that the institutional causes must be investigated,” he said.
A special court in Mumbai dealing with SC/ST Act cases is scheduled to take up the chargesheet filed by the police in a June 6 hearing.
Meanwhile, Collective JNU, a student association at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, held a solidarity session, where Rameshbhai Solanki was also present. The students demanded strict monitoring mechanisms to address caste-based discrimination at elite institutions like IITs.
Soon after Mr. Solanki’s death, IIT-B, in an internal investigation ruled that there was no caste-based discrimination against him and the Director of the institute said such discrimination was an “exception” on campus.
However, multiple surveys show that caste-based discrimination is rampant at IIT-Bombay. Source: The Hindu