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“My nephew told us that the behaviour of his friends changed towards him once they found out that he belonged to a Scheduled Caste,” claimed Indravadan Parmar, the maternal uncle of 18-year-old Darshan Solanki, an IIT-Bombay student, who died by suicide on campus on 12 February.
Solanki hailed from Ahmedabad, and joined IIT-B over three months ago to pursue B.Tech. His uncle told The Quint, "He told his sister and badi mummy (aunt) that some of friends had stopped talking to him and used to taunt and trouble him after they found out that he belonged to the Dalit community."
A day after Solanki's demise, a student collective at the IIT-B campus called Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle (APPSC) had alleged that Solanki’s death was “an institutional murder”. After this, IIT-B issued a statement, which “strongly refuted” allegations of caste discrimination on campus.
“My nephew went there (IIT-B) to study. Something must have happened for him... That's why he would have taken such a drastic step,” his uncle asserted.
‘Darshan Solanki Prepared For JEE Exam Without Coaching’
Parmar told The Quint that Solanki was a "brilliant student, who always topped his exams." Solanki is survived by his parents and an elder sister.
His uncle said, "He made it to IIT because of his own hard work... He prepared for JEE entrance exams on his own at home, without joining any coaching centre.
When Solanki got through IIT-B, he was ecstatic, said Parmar. "It was his dream to go to IIT-Bombay," he recalled.
Parmar claimed that his nephew spoke to his parents via video call barely an hour he died, allegedly by suicide.
“He was very happy. He said that his exams had concluded and that he was going out with friends. There was a family function at home in the coming days and he was quite excited about returning home,” said Parmar.
Demanding strict action and inquiry into the matter, Parmar said that Solanki's parents are heartbroken and in shock.
“We have lost our child. The police should investigate the case in an unbiased manner. We hope this does not happen to anyone else,” said Parmar.
Student Body Demands Director's Resignation
The APPSC had on 13 February alleged that the incident is “not a personal/individualised issue but an institutional murder," and that the premier institute "did not care to make the space inclusive and safe for Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi students."
In light of the family claiming that Darshan underwent caste discrimination at the campus, the student body has demanded the resignation of the Director of the institute, and “hope that the administration will start the learning process, at least now.”
Meanwhile, IIT-Bombay, in a statement issued on 14 February said, “Based on initial inputs from friends, there is no indication that the student faced any such discrimination.”
“The institute takes utmost precautions to make the campus as inclusive as possible. IIT Bombay has zero tolerance for any discrimination by faculty. Caste identity is never disclosed to anyone (whether students or faculty) once the admission is done... While no steps can be 100 percent effective, discrimination by students, if at all it occurs, is an exception,” the statement further read.