Published: 10th July 2020
IIT Gandhinagar researcher ends life, institute informs family 3 days later. Researchers seek probe
The deceased was a fifth-year PhD student of IIT Gandhinagar. She hung herself to death inside her hostel room on the night of July 3
It was 4.30 pm on Monday when Dilip Kumar Ghosh's mobile phone rang. On the other end of the phone was P K Chopra, the Registrar of IIT Gandhinagar, the institute from where his only child Piue pursued her PhD. Little did Ghosh imagine that he was in for the worst news that he would ever hear — Pieu had taken her life three days ago, on July 3.
Piue was a fifth-year PhD scholar in IIT Gandhinagar, who was reportedly about to complete her thesis. Sources tell us that she had ended her life on the night of July 3 by hanging inside her hostel room. However, her parents were kept in the dark about the incident for three days. "She spoke to me for half an hour on Friday night. After that, she spoke to her husband who is in the US. But we never imagined that we wouldn't get to talk to her ever after that," says Dilip Ghosh.
Ghosh tells us that Piue allegedly had gotten into a rift with her research guide regarding patenting her project and demands a proper investigation. "She was such a brilliant student. She would work for 20-22 hours as her research was nearing completion. She was also busy working on the patent," says Ghosh, who had come to IIT for his daughter's last rites.
She hung herself to death in her hostel room
Piue's research guide did not respond to our calls, neither did her coworkers wish to speak about this.
He also says that Piue had a diary in her room. "She wrote that she has no reason to live, the world doesn't need her, she has lost and that she is going to leave. She also wants her body to be donated after her death," he says.
Piue had come home to Bardhaman in Kolkata when the lockdown began and was called back to campus by her research guide, Ghosh tells us. "Until July 3, she was under quarantine in her room. The day it was supposed to end, she took her life. My wife and I have no one now. We have no reason to live. We have no one to complain to. There is no God," he says, teary-eyed. "She loved us so much. Her mother is ill and she was very dear to Piue. How can she leave her?" he asks, the pain in his voice evident. Piue's postmortem report is due in four days, he says,
Her friends back home in Bardhaman remember Piue as a gentle, softspoken girl. "We grew up together in Bardhaman, after which, she went to BHU to pursue her BSc. But she always wanted to go back home. She was close to her parents. So, her father took early retirement and the family shifted to Kolkata, from where she pursued her BTech," says a friend, who did not wish to be named. "She was under so much pressure in her institute. I've heard that she was on the verge of giving up. In fact, she was called back to the campus in the middle of the pandemic. This is highly unlikely in a research institute," says the friend, who is a researcher in another institute.
50 IIT researchers have ended their lives in the past five years
Research scholars across the country have raised their voices against the incident and are now demanding a probe into the issue. They have also started a change.org petition for the same, which has around 1000 signatures. While addressing a parliament session in December 2019, the HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that in the past five years, 50 IIT students died by suicide in the country. The question had come up while discussing the suicide of Fathima Latheef, a student of IIT Madras, who died by suicide in November 2019, allegedly owing to a faculty member's harassment.
"The IIT Gandhinagar community is deeply saddened by the death of a PhD scholar of Electrical Engineering. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family in this time of grief," the institute said in a release. "We are unable to release any information or comment while the investigation is underway," it added.
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