'Was a Brilliant Scientist': Friends of Kolkata PhD Scholar Who Died By Suicide

The 29-year-old was in his seventh year at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata.

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"Subhadip was a person of protocols and principles," said his friend Debajyoti Guha, adding that he cared only about two things – academics and student issues. "He was a student leader, and he had fought for extension of fellowships for everyone after the pandemic. He had also made a lot of changes in the food, health, and hygiene department in the institute."

Twenty-nine-year-old Subhadip Roy was a PhD Scholar in his seventh year at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Kolkata. On the night of Sunday, 3 April, Roy died by suicide, leaving behind a suicide note naming his supervisor.

Guha told The Quint:

“Subhadip was not getting the necessary guidance from his supervisor. He was a great scientist, but he was not able to reach his potential.”

Roy belonged in the IISER's Quantum Information and Computing Lab. He had completed his Masters in the first two years, following which he was working on his PhD in the field of solid-state physics.

An FIR has been filed under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), based on a complaint made by Roy’s mother Ranjana Roy, a police officer at Kolkata's Haringhata police station said, adding, "A professor is named in the note that he left. The matter is currently under investigation and the necessary action will be taken.”

The other details of the note have not been disclosed. The accused professor declined to comment until the police investigation is over.


'Dedicated and Helpful': How Roy's Friends, Professors Remember Him

Professors and fellow researchers remember Roy as someone who poured himself into his work.

Guha added that he was particularly excited when two new machines – a Vector Network Analyser (VNA) and an Optically Detected Magnetic Resonance – were introduced in the lab.

Professor Ayan Banerjee, HOD of Physics Department, said that Roy was among the best in his batch, adding that he was a leading student and would always help others.

Brataraj Ghosh, who had been Roy's roommate for the first two years, said, “He was brilliant and stable. After taking an exam, he would come and sleep soundly while others would be stressed.”

"In the last few months, he was having problems with his supervisor. Subhadip had taken charge of the lab then. Since he was a perfectionist, he would help his juniors, he would set up all the machines, call the mechanics, and pay them himself. He was thinking of doing his post doctorate in the institute since he had put so much work into the lab. But his supervisor would not pay much heed to him."
Brataraj Ghosh

A few students and security guards found Roy the morning after he died in the lab. He was rushed to the hospital where he was declared dead several hours ago. Sourav Pal, the director of the institute, said, “He had not complained to me. We know what happened, but we do not know why. A fact-finding committee has been set up by the institute. We will cooperate with the police however we need to.”

His mother Ranjana Roy said, “The professor named in the note should be punished. Subhadip was very dedicated to his work… there was no other reason for him to do this.”

“He was avoiding all of his friends and he would spend all of his time in the lab for the last few months. But he was getting demotivated by his supervisor,” Guha said.


'Aloof for the Last Few Months'

Professor Banerjee said that the labs were shut during the first and the second lockdown – and that the pandemic could have taken a toll on Roy.

He said, “His friends say that he had gone into a shell in the last three months,” adding that he was unaware of any friction between Roy and his supervisor.

Brataraj said, “Ever since Christmas, he was a bit aloof. He would not talk to us. I was getting slightly worried.” He added that something similar had happened a few years earlier, but he snapped out of it eventually.

"Since he was so meticulous, he was the one with an induction, non-stick pans, and jars of spices in his hostel room. We had a shared love for food. But in the last few days, even that was fading.”
Brataraj Ghosh

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Topics:  Suicide Note   PhD Student   Suicide Case 

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