Dalit Student Dies By Suicide in Tamil Nadu, Kin Alleges Caste Abuse by College
The college management had allegedly banned the Dalit student from attending classes due to a backlog of fees.
(If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these numbers of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs.)
A 19-year-old Dalit student of Sir Issac Newton College of Physiotherapy, Anthanapettai, in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu died by suicide on Wednesday, 30 March, after the college management allegedly banned her from attending classes due to a backlog of fees.
The family of the deceased, Subashini, alleges that she was abused with casteist slurs, made to stand outside the classroom for three days, and threatened with further humiliation if she attempted to attend classes before the fees were paid.
Subashini’s relatives are staging protests outside the Nagapattinam General Hospital and have refused to grant permission for the postmortem examination until those responsible from the college management are arrested.
A case has been registered at the Nagore Police Station under CrPC Section 174 (unnatural death) and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
However, no arrests have been made yet, Nagapattinam Deputy Superintendent of Police P Saravanan said.
Arivazhagan, a relative of Subashini, told TNM that the annual fee at the college was Rs 65,000.
"The family had paid Rs 15,000 and informed the management that they would pay the remaining amount as soon as possible. But still, Subashini was made to stand outside the classroom for three days last week. They asked her if someone from her caste even needed this kind of higher education. The management also told her that if she came back to attend classes before the full fees were paid, she would be further humiliated. She was very distressed by all this,” the relative said.
Arivazhagan added that one of Subhashini's uncles, who teaches at the college, had attempted to intervene on her behalf. “He asked the management why they did not approach him regarding the matter of the fees instead of publicly humiliating her.”
The student’s parents are daily wage labourers. Her father works as a plumber and her mother is a sanitation worker at the local municipality.
DSP Saravanan said that an investigation is in progress and that they are waiting for witness statements and the postmortem report before making arrests. TNM was unable to reach Sir Issac Newton College’s management for comments. This article will be updated if and when they respond.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)
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