"He got All India Rank 16 in the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) when he took the exam in 2019 from Kanpur," older brother of Anil Kumar, the 21-year-old student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), who recently died by suicide, told The Quint, holding back his tears.
A resident of Banda district in Uttar Pradesh, Anil Kumar belonged to the Dalit community. A student of BTech in Mathematics and Computing at the prestigious institute, his death on Friday, 1 September, follows a spate of suicides in India's premier colleges, including that of Ayush Ashna, a fourth-year Dalit student of the same department in IIT-D as Anil's.
Linking the two deaths, IIT-D students issued a statement, claiming that their deaths are "not a personal failure" but an "institutional" one.
'Anil Last Sent Me a Picture of His New Phone’
"I last spoke to him on 29 August. We were just casually catching up when he mentioned that his phone kept on hanging. So, I had asked him to buy a new one," Amit told The Quint, adding that Anil then bought a new Motorola phone the next day using the scholarship money he had saved up.
Thirty-two-year-old Amit, the oldest of four siblings – three brothers and a sister – works as a driver on a contractual basis in Banda. He is the sole breadwinner of his family, which includes his wife, his mother, three siblings, and their grandmother.
"The last message he sent to me on WhatsApp was a picture of his new phone. He was happy," Amit mourned.
Speaking to The Quint, DCP Southwest Delhi Manoj C said that Anil Kumar, who was residing at the college's Vindhyachal Hostel, had been given an extension to stay at the hostel for another six months so that he could clear his pending subjects. He was supposed to vacate the hostel in June 2023.
He denied any "foul play" in the case, adding that inquest proceedings were underway. After the police rushed to the spot upon receiving a call at Kishangarh Police Station at around 6 pm, they found "the door was closed from inside and had to be broken open by the Fire Department."
His brother added that his new phone was in police custody – and his hostel room had been locked by the institute's administration.
The police, as of yet, have not stated whether a suicide note has been recovered in the case.
The Quint has reached out to the PRO of IIT-D for more details – and sought their response to the allegations made by the students. The article will be updated once they respond.
The students, however, had allegedly received an email from the Director's office the same night informing them of the incident.
"With a very heavy heart, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you the very sad and untimely demise of a very young member of our community Anil Kumar... This tragic loss is compounded by the fact that Anil belonged to the SC community."
'Anil Was Hardworking, Always Focused on Studies'
"Anil was a responsible and serious student. He was very thoughtful. I would never have imagined that he would take this terrible step," one of his professors told The Quint.
His brother, too, described him as hardworking and patient.
"Ghar mein khaana ho ya na ho, chaahe sookhi roti khaani pade lekin Anil ka dhyaan sirf padhai mein he rehta tha (Whether there was any food in the house or not, even if he had to eat a dry chapati, Anil was always focused on studies)," Amit told The Quint, adding that he loved watching cricket, but he did play the sport much as he "kept studying."
Anil had completed his CBSE class 10 board exam from Uttar Pradesh, class 12 board from Hyderabad, and then prepared for JEE from Kota in Rajasthan, following which he secured a place in IIT-D.
"He was the first from our family to achieve this kind of excellence in academics."
The professor, who took a semester-long course with Anil's batch last year, told The Quint that she remembered him "vividly."
"It was a literature course, and he did very well in it. I remember him vividly. He was warm and friendly in an understated way," she said.
Second Suicide Death of Dalit Student in 2 Months
The consecutive deaths has led the students demanding the administration to take "immediate steps" to ensure the prevention of "traumatic incidents."
In a statement issued on 3 September, which has been accessed by The Quint, the students have sought for changes in curriculum and the marking scheme to ease the burden on students who were affected by the pandemic or are serving an extension.
"Young people today live in an extremely competitive world that makes them intensely vulnerable. As teachers and parents, perhaps we don't always realise just how vulnerable they are," one of Anil's professors told The Quint.
"The Department of Mathematics cannot shirk its responsibilities by labelling students who died as introverted, reserved, withdrawn and that the students did not take the initiative to seek counselling processes as they claimed during Ayush Ashna's death," the students stated in their statement.
Twenty-year-old Dalit student Ashna, who hailed from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh and was a fourth-year student of BTech in Mathematics and Computing, had died by suicide on 10 July.
(Accessed by The Quint)
(Accessed by The Quint)
The students demanded to know the structural changes that have been introduced since Ayush Ashna's death by suicide and demanded the resignation of the Head of the Mathematics Department. The students also alleged that the department did not have any faculty member belonging to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) community.
Meanwhile, Amit is unsure of the way forward for him and his family.
"I never thought a situation like this would ever arise. Uske saath humaari saari umeed bhe mar gayi hai (With him, our hopes have died too)," Amit said.