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Life was beautiful, but…

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A Dalit Student Ends his Life in University of Hyderabad Campus

Chapparban Sajaudeen Nijamodeen (Shuja)

Date: 24/11/2013

‘Suicides on the campus are a failure of the system and steps that have been suggested in order to address the serious issues of the student community need our immediate attention’ ~ Registrar, University of Hyderabad.

Mr. Madari Venkatesh (or Venkateshwarlu), 26 year old Ph.D scholar of the Advanced Centre of Research in High Energy Materials (ACRHEM), ended his life by taking poisonous medicine last night in the University of Hyderabad campus. He was born on 10th April, 1988, in a small village near Ibrahimpatnam in Ranga Reddy district, Andhra Pradesh, in an SC family.

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He got admitted into the 2011-12 batch and was working under senior Professor Tiwari who retired a few months ago. But unfortunately, after his earlier supervisor retired, he was not given another guide for the last seven months. This academic anxiety led to him to take such a tragic decision. Venteshwarlu has two publications also in his credit. Other students of this Centre have also blamed it, saying it asks only for theoretical work and does not focus on practicals. Due to this very reason some students had quit their courses earlier. Students in other schools/departments also face the same problems of supervisor’s selection/rejection.

The student community held a protest in front of the VC’s bungalow in the campus from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm, until the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, agreed to the demands of the students. They demanded a serious investigation into this matter, the release of compensation for the victim’s family and acceptance Venteshwarlu’s death as an institutional failure. They also urged that guides must be assigned to students who are suffering from this problem, and the University should allow students who have quit because of such problems to rejoin their courses.

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Students gather outside the Hostel ‘J & K’, South Campus, University of Hyderabad, where Venkatesh stayed

The student community also asked the Vice Chancellor Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy about the steps taken to resolve Dalit students’ problems regarding caste discrimination, suicides and mental harassment in the campus. The students wanted to know how much of the Pulyala Raju Committee report was implemented in the campus and what were the necessary actions taken against the culprits. Mr. Pulyala Raju was an integrated student in Linguistics, another Dalit student who had committed suicide in 2012. The committee was formed to investigate marginalized students issues more seriously in general and Raju’s case in particular.

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Students hold protest near VC’s Bungalow

Prof. Ramaswamy after looking at the students’ anger and demands gave a written assurance that he will intitute a committee which will investigate these issues seriously and undertake necessary actions. The Registrar of the University writes, “In response to students’ demands the University Administration has assured the following:

1. Prof. Krishna Committee will look into the circumstances that led to the death of Mr. Venteshwarlu and submit its report at the earliest, preferably by 26 Nov. 2013.

2. The University will implement the decisions of the Executive Council on the report of Venteshwarlu, Senthil Kumar and Pulyala Raju by November 29, 2013.

3. The University assures that strict administrative actions will be initiated against those found guilty as per the report submitted by committee in this regard.

4. Other cases in the University where research students are not assigned research supervisors and doctoral committees more than 3 months after admission should be brought to the notice of the CE and Dean, Students’ Welfare. And appropriate action will be taken.

5. The University level grievances committee set up as per the recommendation of the Pulayala Raju committee will be notified on 27 November 2013.

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The registrar admitted in his letter that: ‘Suicides on the campus are a failure of the system and steps that have been suggested in order to address the serious issues of the student community need our immediate attention’.

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Chapparban Sajaudeen Nijamodeen (Shuja) is a PhD Research Scholar in University of Hyderabad (UoH). He can be contacted at: shujaudeen09@gmail.com

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