IIT-M Suicide: Is Second Alleged Suicide Note Fake?
(This article, originally 'IIT-M Suicide Case: Father & Students Say Second Note Is Fake' has been updated to include a comment from a source close to the family claiming that the second note is real. Fathima Latheef’s father and the students continue to assert it is fake, while the police are investigating.)
This was the text of a screenshot Abdul Latheef, Fathima’s father had shared with media.
19-year old Fathima from Kollam in Kerala was a first-year student of the five-year MA programme in Development Studies at IIT Madras. She was found hanging from the ceiling fan in her hostel room on the morning of 9 November.
When her twin sister Aysha had gone to the Kotturpuram Police Station, she found Fathima’s phone on the table. Upon charging the phone, she noticed there was no lock and the aforementioned text was her home screen. This screenshot pinning blame on Professor Sudharshan Padmanabhan was then widely circulated on social media as the alleged suicide note.
Now another note purported to have been written by her is also being circulated, which blames two other professors.
The Alleged Second Suicide Note
Several questions are being raised questioning the authenticity of the second suicide note.
What does the note say?
The other two professors named in the purported second note are Dr Hemachandran Karah and Milind Brahme.
Dr Hemachandran Karah teaches English Literature at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department. He is known for his research on themes such as disability, health, literary criticism, and musicology.
Milind Brahme teaches the German Language, Comparative Literature and is the advisor of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, a pro-Dalit group.
Fathima’s father reiterated that he was not aware how this particular note pinning blame on the other two professors began doing the rounds.
Students close to one of the professors said they are trying to prove that the note is fake.
On the other hand, a source close to the family said there were reasons to believe that the note is genuine. However, the source refused to speak more as the case is under investigation.
The Police, when contacted by The Quint confirmed that the phone has been sent for forensics and they will confirm the claims very soon. They refused to divulge more details as the investigation is underway.
Prof Trying to Distort Facts, Claims Father
When The Quint spoke to friends close to Fathima, they claimed that she was every teacher’s favourite. The professor in question, Sudharshan Padmanaban, had also appreciated her several times during class.
Brushing aside allegations, one of her friends had told The Quint,
However, her father sharply retorted to this claim saying, “When the professor got caught, this (image) is something he has created. Just fake.” He also claimed the students have been instructed not to say things that will malign the reputation of the department and the institution.
Father Suspects Harassment by Professors
All of Fathima's professors and friends said she was one of the brightest students in the batch. When The Quint spoke to the students, they said that Fathima had been a topper.
There were rumours that Fathima had scored low marks in a certain subject and was thus upset. Apparently, Fathima had scored 13 out of 20 marks in an Internal Assessment in Logic but believed she deserved more. She had approached the Head of the Department for a review.
The professor reviewed it and sent the paper back to Professor Sudarshan Padmanabhan, who had evaluated the paper. She was the topper in the paper; the student in second place in the test had scored 11 marks and the one in third place had scored 9.
The professor had apparently asked Fathima to meet him on Monday, 11 November, but Fathima was found dead in her hostel room on Saturday.
The family suspects something happened which had impacted Fathima drastically.
Her father claims that she made notes for over 28 days about different professors and that the same will come to light after the investigation.
The Central Crime Branch (CCB) team of Chennai police probing the case questioned Fathima's father and sister for over three hours on Saturday and have asked them to submit her laptop and gadgets for further investigation.
‘Implore Media to Protest Till Justice Is Served’
Fathima’s father appealed to the media to continue to write about this issue and bring the culprits to justice.
“Tamil Nadu and Kerala media have taken this up to make sure this does not happen to another girl. There are many children to aspire to study a lot and it can be possible only with) the help of media like) you,” he added.
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