“The committee hasn’t taken all the evidences and material on record… Our statements were not taken in writing… We have been denied the principle of natural justice,” wrote Ramesh Solanki, father of 18-year-old Darshan Solanki, in a letter to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay. His son had died by suicide at the IIT campus in Mumbai's Powai on 12 February.
In the letter, dated 24 March, addressed to the Director of IIT Bombay, Ramesh rejected the conclusion of IIT’s internal committee, which was set up to investigate into Darshan's death a day after he died by suicide.
He demanded that the case be transferred to another state’s agency or a central agency. Darshan, who belonged to the Dalit community, was pursuing B.Tech in Chemical Engineering and hailed from Gujarat's Ahmedabad.
He was in the first year and had joined the IIT-Bombay campus only a few months ago.
While Darshan’s parents and family, as well as student body Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) have linked his death by suicide to caste discrimination, IIT Bombay has repeatedly refuted these claims.
An internal committee formed by the elite institute to probe Darshan’s death has, instead, claimed that he was “severely affected by his deteriorating academic performance.”
'Report Problematic, No Expert On Caste Bias On Panel': Darshan's Father
In the letter, which was accessed by The Quint, Ramesh has rejected the report of the internal committee, calling it “not only false but (also) inhuman.”
The report holds my son responsible for his own death. What kind of institution, which promises to provide a safe and nurturing environment to its students, especially from ST/SC background, blames them for the hardships they face?Ramesh Solanki, father of Darshan Solanki
Darshan’s father also called the conclusion of the 12-member internal committee -- headed by Professor Nand Kishore from the Department of Chemistry -- “problematic” and said that the committee did not have “an expert who understands how caste operates in elite spaces like IIT-Bombay, who understands the various manners in which caste discrimination takes place among peers/friends/batchmates/roommates in common and private spaces.”
Further, Ramesh has alleged that the internal committee deliberately did not take the statements of all the family members, including Darshan’s mother, in whom he had often “confided” about facing caste-based discrimination on campus.
He added that the testimonies were taken online instead of being noted in person.
'Not Informed Appropriately About Darshan's Death': Father
“lt was shocking to see that the committee downplayed Janvi’s (Darshan’s sister) statement about how Darshan was belittled and made fun of during group studies for being a Dalit student (students would call out ‘Dalit’ when Darshan would go for group studies), and for not being able to use a computer or speak in English," said Ramesh in the letter.
Janvi had earlier alleged to The Quint: “When he found himself stuck using a laptop, his friends used to mock him saying ‘you don’t even know this much’. Whenever he used to go for group study sessions or even dinner, his batchmates used to say, ‘Dekho Dalit aa gaya’.” She also said that Darshan was determined to study and had decided to ignore these comments.
Ramesh, in his letter, has also alleged that he was not “informed appropriately about the death of my son.” He claimed that different accounts of what had happened to Darshan were given to him over the phone until they arrived at IIT-Bombay campus the same day.
Ramesh also made grave allegations about how the family was not allowed to see Darshan’s mortal remains, and that the post-mortem was conducted without their consent.
Asserting that that he rejects the internal committee report, Ramesh said, “IIT-Bombay cannot be a judge in its own case.”
“The committee is biased and is constituted to save the face of IIT-Bombay rather than bringing (out) the truth in the matter,” Darshan’s father alleged and demanded that a central agency look into the matter.
Darshan's family, had last week, submitted their complaint to Mumbai police, which had then asked them to depose before the Special Investigation Team (SIT), formed on 28 February to investigate the case. No FIR (First Information Report) has yet been filed in the matter.