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Taunted For Being Muslim, IIT Madras Student Commits Suicide, Blames Faculty

Days after Fathima Latheef, a first-year student of IIT-Madras, committed suicide in the hostel room, her parents have alleged that humiliation and religious discrimination by some of her faculty members had forced their young daughter to take the extreme step.

A native of Kollam in Kerala, 19-years-old Fathima Latheef was an integrated MSc first-year student in the institute’s Humanities and Social Sciences Department. On Saturday afternoon, when her friends had gone to call her they found her not answering the door. They informed the hostel warden who with the help of the security broke open the door only to find her dead. Fathima was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her hostel room.

A suicide note recovered from the girl’s possession is with the police who registered a case based on a complaint filed by her twin sister Aisha Latheef. According to the relatives, a group of teachers and students mentally harassed Fathima, which was affecting her academic performance. They remember Fathima as a bright student who secured admission emerging first in an entrance test conducted by the centre last year.

Details of Fatima’s suicide note allegedly blames three faculty members and mentions the motive behind her action. The notes were shared by the family.

“In the case of my death, This should be considered as my last non nuncupative statement. I never realised that I would miss my home so much. I abhor this place. How I yearn for my home, to be suspended in that delicious inertia like an interminable sleep from which I can never be roused. In the case of my death, the whole of blame will be unremittingly upon Mr Hemachandran Karah and Mr Milind Brahme,” says one of the extracts from Fathima’s notes.

In another note found on her phone, she had blamed another faculty member. “Sudarshan Padmanabhan is the cause of my death,” she had written. Fathima’s body was brought to her hometown in Kilikolloor and laid to rest on Monday after autopsy procedures at Royapettah Government Hospital in Chennai.

Her family has blamed the death on religious discrimination by her faculties. They have alleged that the faculties allegedly taunted her for being a Muslim.

“My daughter faced casteist and religious discrimination from her faculties. Earlier she said that her name (Muslim name) itself is a problem there”, Maktoob quoted Fatima’s father Abdul Latheef as saying.

Fatima’s father has also alleged that the Tamil Nadu police have been taking the incident lightly. The parents on Tuesday approached Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seeking support for a fair probe into the circumstances leading to their daughter’s death. The chief minister has reportedly assured them that he would take up the matter with his Tamil Nadu counterpart, said Fathima’s father Abdul Latheef.

Meanwhile, the authorities of the college have expressed grief over her death in a statement and also informed that the department had no role over the tragic death of the girl. “IIT Madras faculty, staff, and students extend their deepest condolences to the family, friends and other near and dear ones of the deceased student. This is indeed an irreparable loss to the institute and the family. May her soul rest in peace,” read a portion of the statement.

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Shaik Zakeer Hussain is the Founder and Editor of The Cognate.

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