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Sunday, September 7, 2014

253 -Cops believe IIT-B student may have committed suicide - TNN

Yogita Rao & Vijay V Singh,TNN | Sep 6, 2014, 11.06 PM IST

MUMBAI: Investigators, based on circumstantial evidence, are veering towards the view that the death of a student at IIT-B on Thursday may be a case of suicide. However, police said a final conclusion on Aniket Ambhore's death will be drawn only after recording the statement of his friends, classmates and others. IIT-B officials will probe allegations made by Aniket's father Sanjay, that his son was taunted over getting into the institute through the SC/ST quota.

Aniket, a fourth-year electrical engineering student at the institute, died after a fall from a sixth-floor balcony of a hostel on the campus on Thursday evening. Police believe Aniket may have committed suicide and said he last spoke to his father before the incident. Aniket was suffering from depression and was advised five to six hours' rest during daytime. A senior officer said, "He spoke to his parents before the incident, saying he was going to sleep. His parents then spoke to his friend who told them that Aniket was sleeping in his room. The incident took place after the friend left for the canteen." Aniket was seen talking on his mobile on a balcony on Thursday evening when a student saw him falling.

IIT-B officials said allegations of Aniket being taunted were being seriously probed. "The institute takes utmost care of students and several programmes are introduced at institute level from time to time to ensure students perform better in academics," said an IIT-B official. "At IIT-B, the support system and mentoring/counselling offered to students is for all irrespective of their caste, creed, religion/gender and background. IIT-B is an egalitarian institution, where there is no room for discrimination," said the official.

The institute has a student-mentorship programme in place and counsellors also regularly visit hostels to interact with students. During the course of the academic rehabilitation programme (ARP), the students are mentored and monitored closely by faculty members, said the official. Aniket was also put on ARP.

However, a recent survey done by the students' media body for their in-house magazine, InSight, revealed that 56% of quota students in the first year felt discrimination existed in the institute, but in a discreet manner. Of all first-year students, 69% felt discrimination on the basis of caste does not exist at all, while 28% felt discrimination exists in an indirect manner. Around 3% students surveyed also claimed that they witnessed discrimination.

"The main divide does not seem to be due to any sort of negative sentiment, but due to the sphere of academics," stated the article. The average cumulative performance index of general, OBC and SC/ST students is 8.09, 6.6 and 5.59 respectively. Around 70% of reserved category students said they experience more academic pressure than open category students, as they feel they lag behind in academics. They also claimed it was a demoralising factor.

Aniket too had several backlogs in the first and second years of his dual-degree programme. His father told TOI that he was undergoing treatment for depression and had returned to the campus after a 10-day break on Thursday. His father also said that he was taunted on campus.

A student close to Aniket, however, said there was no discrimination against him by his peers, friends or colleagues of any sort. "In fact, he was one of the popular students in the batch for his singing and song-writing skills," said the student.

Senior psychiatrist Harish Shetty said parents should share information of depression, if any, with institute counsellors and work as a team. "In such cases, a psychological autopsy is a must to determine what happened. Student mentors at the institute should be trained as bare-foot counsellors to pick up signs of depression," he said.