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Thursday, May 14, 2015

IIT BOMBAY LOCKS UP TERRACES AFTER SUICIDE - Mumbai Mirror


By Arita Sarkar, Mumbai Mirror | May 13, 2015, 12.00 AM IST

Not fair, say students, as terraces provide much-needed room for relaxation.

Following the suicide of the third year chemical engineering student, IIT Bombay's administration has decided to lock up the terraces for safety reasons. IIT Bombay director Devang Khakker has also constituted a high level committee to introspect on the suicide and give feedback and suggestions. 

Among the favourite hangout spots on campus, the terrace atop the hostel buildings is the getaway haven for the students who wish to unwind, especially in the evenings. 

"I usually make a trip to the terrace almost every day after snack to relax," said a resident of Hostel 11. "Sometimes I read a book or listen to music and chat with a few friends. It's that informal space for casual conversations that is important to every hostel resident." Shutting the terraces, the student said, was not the solution. "Locking the terraces won't solve anything. People always work around restrictions. Without terraces, the hostels only become more claustrophobic," she said. 

The hostel terrace has an emotional connect for a lot of students. Uddipta Chatterjee, a senior PhD student, said: "I proposed to my girlfriend on the terrace. Other students have their first cigarette or meet their first best friends on the terrace. Locking that space away cannot be the solution; instead, the roots of the problem need to be addressed." He added that several students living on the top floor of the hostels often sleep on the terrace at night. 

"The terraces will be kept locked for good," said IIT Bombay spokesperson Rashmi Uday Kumar. "Some of the doors may need locks to be fixed, and the work is in progress." 

Another member of the administration said that all hostel wardens have been instructed to keep a close watch on the terraces and ensure that they stay locked at all times. 

Sources stated that the high level committee which was appointed last week to probe into the suicide comprises the head of the chemical engineering department, senior hostel authorities, and a senior professor. The committee will give their suggestions to Khakker about measures to avoid student suicides. 

Death on campus 

On May 4, third year chemical engineering student0 Jitesh Sharma, 21, committed suicide on the terrace of a hostel by consuming a poisonous chemical called sodium azide. He left a suicide note that said he was under depression caused by academic pressure. 


Less than a year before that, fourth year electrical engineering student Aniket Ambhore, who was also suffering from depression, fell to his death from the sixth floor of one of the hostels.