IIT Delhi student suicide: “We are not your Eklavyas,” APPSC condemns IIT; to organise candle march on July 13 

This incident has reignited the ongoing controversy surrounding the lack of inclusivity and caste-based exclusion within IIT campuses 
Pic: EdexLive
Pic: EdexLive

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, has been hit by yet another tragic incident. Ayush Ashna, a final year BTech student belonging to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) category, was discovered dead in his hostel room on Sunday, July 9. This incident has reignited the ongoing controversy surrounding the lack of inclusivity within IIT campuses.

Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) at IIT Delhi has strongly criticised the IITs, equating them to "Agrahas" – land grants given to Brahmins to sustain their families. In an impassioned plea, they question, "Till when will you kill us in your Agrahas?" In a bid to seek justice and solidarity for the deceased, the APPSC has called for a candle march on July 13, 7 pm, at Red Square in IITD.

“We shall march, this time keeping in mind the trajectory of sc/st students inside iits. For long we have been killed in these mysterious circumstances,” (sic) expressed APPSC in a Twitter post emphasising the persistent challenges faced by SC/ST students within IITs. It's worth recalling that the APPSC previously accused IITs of perpetrating “institutional murder” by driving marginalised students to suicide. 

Remembering Darshan Solanki
Among the tragic wave of student suicides on IIT campuses earlier this year, the case of 18-year-old Darshan Solanki gained significant attention. Darshan took his own life by jumping from his hostel building at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in February. In response, the APPSC cell at IIT Bombay had declared, "We don't need this Institute of Eminence (IoE) like IIT; what we need is an "Institute of Empathy" (which indeed calls for transformations at many levels).”

Referring to Darshan Solanki's death, the APPSC cell criticised the institution for failing its marginalised students again. They noted that the administration's communication failed to mention his ST identity, stating on Twitter, "Once again, the institute has reminded its SC/ST student population of how welcoming it is to talk about institutional casteism, bullying, and the constant questioning of SC/ST students' merits."

APPSC firmly rejected the notion of being treated as the "Eklavyas" of the institute, drawing a parallel to the tribal character from the Mahabharata. The statement suggests that marginalised students in IIT reject being treated as Eklavya, a self-taught learner who had to navigate challenges only to be sacrificed by Dronacharya who favoured the upper caste, Arjuna. The reference conveys their demand for equal opportunities, inclusive support systems and a fair chance to excel without having to face additional obstacles due to their marginalised backgrounds.

IITs have frequently faced accusations of caste-based exclusion, amplifying the urgent need for change. Bala Kammela, a Twitter user, states, “I never liked IIT; they serve Corporate Globalists which is full of “Organized Crime” and “Organized Labor” nowadays filled with Human Machines. They don’t serve Hinduism nor Universalism.” (sic)

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