Last year on the same day Fathima Latheef,a 19 year old student of IIT Madras (IIT-M) committed suicide by hanging on fan. Her suicide note mentioned the discrimination she had gone through and specifically mentioned her professors Sudershan Padmanbhan, Hemachandran Karah and Milind Brahme
From the very first moment debates loomed around two points. A group of students alleged religious discrimination as the cause of death pointing out lines from her suicide note. They termed it as an "institutional murder" similar in the lines of Rohit Vemula. Another bunch of students claimed academic pressure as the vital reason of death.
The internal report of IIT-M didn't make the mention of religious discrimination. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) report claimed that Fathima was a brilliant student. The issues related to one paper caused her distress.
However after long debates, hue and cry and the protests the case was handed over to CBI as the part of inquiry. Her parents expressed their dissatisfaction from the beginning of the inquiry.
Two students from IIT-M agreed for a conversion on our promise that their identity shall remain anonymous.
"Fathima's death was considered as normal suicide at the very first moment. Later we identified many questions after we to know her note mentions about Fathima underwent the discrimination based on her religion. Still everything was normal there. Nothing unusual happened in campus after death of student. Protest took place after sometime,"one student said
"Now she is not part of concern of majority, her classmates might be speaking and thinking about her. I am sure majority is not bothered about this question. Sudharshan Padmanbhan remains as same he was in the department",the student added
Another student said that, it took some time for student protest to take momentum. There are evidence for religious discrimination from her suicide note. IIT Madras and many students tried to cover up this to protect the clean image of higher learning institution. Now campus is closed and there are few thinking and talking about the unjust happened to a student in their campus.
The Central Crime Branch closed the case stating that there are no prima facie evidence against the alleged professor and later on case was handed over to CBI. Case has not improved much even under CBI. This slow pace of the inquiry makes the situation hopeless.
Meanwhile V M Sudheeran ,former president of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee(KPCC) has criticized the slow pace of CBI inquiry on Fathima's death on his official facebook page. He noted that it was because of the efforts lead by local MP N K Prema Chandran, Centre ordered for a CBI inquiry in this issue.
Earlier in the context of Fathima's death number of student groups and actvists accused that "casteist and Islamophobic behavior of faculty and their discriminatory attitude have led to many institutional murder in the higher learning institutes in the country including IIT Madras, there needs to be constant public pressure to make the casteist and brahmanical academia change its course."
After one year of Fathima Latheef some questions remains important.
Why was not a proper enquiry done?
Her suicide notes mentions name of professor? Why was not he questioned properly?
Why higher learning institutions turns to be the graveyard of minorities of the country?
How many more students should sacrifice their life?
Beyond several question,Fathima Latheef herself remains as an important question of justice unanswered, unattended even after one year of her death.