Why Are Dalit Students Dying by Suicide at India’s Prestigious Universities?

From IITs to govt universities, caste discrimination is a leading cause of suicides among SC/ST students.

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Video Producer: Aparna Singh

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma & Pawan Kumar

Rohith Vemula. Darshan Solanki. Aniket Ambhore. Payal Tadvi. What is the common link between all these people? They all belonged to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community. They all died due to alleged suicide. The alleged reason behind their suicides were caste discrimination and harassment.


They were all studying in India’s prestigious institutes. From IITs to government universities, caste discrimination is a leading cause of suicides among SC/ST students.

On 25 February, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud raised important questions about suicides of Dalit students of prestigious colleges and universities. 

"Incidents of suicides of students from marginalised communities are becoming common. These numbers are not just statistics. They are stories of centuries of struggle." 
DY Chandrachud, Chief Justice of India

The CJI mentioned the alleged suicide of Darshan Solanki, a BTech student at the IIT Bombay. On 12 February, Solanki died by an alleged suicide by jumping from the seventh floor of his hostel building. 

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told Lok Sabha members that from 2014-2021, 122 students died by suicide at IIT, IIM, NIT and other central universities. Out of these 122, 68 students were from reserved categories.

Not just students, but there’s alleged discrimination towards faculties from marginalised communities.

In 2022, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Prembhai Solanki-led Parliamentary Panel report found that SC/ST students at AIIMS “are being failed in exams repeatedly due to their caste.”

As per the report presented in Rajya Sabha, “It is often seen that these (SC/ST) students have performed very well in theory but were marked as failed in practical exams.”

SC/ST Welfare Committee report stated that people applying for faculty posts face caste discrimination. According to the Ministry of Education, more than 11,000 professor posts are vacant in central universities, IITs, IIMs across country. 

The claims of filling SC/ST faculty seats in central universities under the Mission Mode recruitment fell flat, only 30% of the vacant posts of faculty were filled. 


Out of 45 central universities, only 33 universities had vacancies of 1,097 in SC/ST category. But only 212 posts were filled.

Despite identifying vacant posts, out of 33 universities, 18 failed to fill the SC/ST posts.

Assistant Professor Vipin P Veetil quit his job at IIT-Madras due to ‘caste-based discrimination’ in 2021.

In 2019, postgraduate student Payal Tadvi died by suicide at Topiwala National Medical College hostel due to ‘harassment by three seniors’.

Statistics tell a story of systematic flaws. Caste discrimination can’t be dismissed by saying, ‘the times have changes’ or ‘I have Dalit friends and we drink water from the same glass.”

These statistics should force us ask ourselves… Janab Aise, Kaise?

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Topics:  Dalit   Dalit Student Suicide   SC/ST Act 

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