IIT-M Topper Kills Self, Father Alleges Mental Harassment by Profs

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A 19-year-old woman, who had scored the highest marks, nationally, in the last IIT entrance exams and was a first-year student of MA, humanities and development studies (integrated) in IIT-Madras, committed suicide in her hostel room on Saturday morning. The student has been identified as Fathima Latif and she was a “topper in all subjects and a brilliant student” according to her professors.

“The girl was from Kollam in Kerala. Fatima was staying in Sarayu hostel in the IIT-M campus in Guindy in room number 346. On Saturday, Fatima’s room was locked until 11.30 am. When her friends broke open the door, Fatima was found hanging from the fan,” a source with Kotturpuram police station said, Hindustan Times reported.

On Tuesday, the student’s father, Abdul Latif, wrote a letter to Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan requesting state intervention In Tamil Nadu police’s probe in the case. He has also sent a complaint to the Prime Minister and sought justice for Fathima. He sent a copy of a note allegedly written by Fathima on her phone in which she named a professor and said that he ‘is the cause of my death’, Latif told The Indian Express.

On Saturday, Fatima’s room was locked until 11.30am. When her friends broke open the door, Fatima was found hanging from the fan.

TN police investigating the case have held the phone in their custody.

Fathima was last seen in the hostel On 8th November by other hostelers. On the day she ended her life, her mother, Sajitha Latif, called her but the calls went unanswered, police said, First Post reported. “The girl’s mother later called one of the hostel inmates and requested to look for her daughter,” the official told PTI. Her friends then went checking for her but since the room was locked from inside, they broke the door open to find Fathima hanging from the ceiling fan of her room.

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The hostelers called for police who then took her body to the Government Royapettah Hospital.

“This was the first time Fatima was staying away from her family in the hostel. She was very homesick. Also, she recently got low internal marks. So, these might have driven Fatima to commit suicide,” the police officer said while speaking to HT.

After a preliminary probe, police found that there was no suicide letter, that she had left in her room and it is suspected that she might have committed suicide because of her falling academic performance in one subject.

Umakant Dash, head of humanities department at IIT-Madras, says that the department including the professors and the students have no idea what triggered Fathima to commit suicide.

“We have virtually no idea about a reason for her suicide. The incident being linked to a professor was about an answer-sheet distributed last week. She had scored the highest in other subjects and came second in only his (professor’s) paper. I am told she was expecting three more marks. But scoring two or three marks fewer (out of 20) in an internal exam…is that a reason for suicide?…. It was very unfortunate,” Dash said.

Fathima’s father believes that she never showed any behavioural tendency to commit suicide but she had mentioned the professor’s name earlier to him. “There is a mystery behind this death. She told us about this professor earlier, too- that he makes some students cry. We also have information that she used to sit and cry regularly at the mess hall around nine every night. So we demand that the police check CCTV footage,” Abdul said, IE reported.

IIT-M released a statement expressing grief over Fathima’s death. “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,” the statement reads, Firstpost quotes.

Image Credit: ThinkStock

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