JNU research scholar J Muthukrishnan, who allegedly committed suicide on Monday evening, was a close friend of Rohith Vemula’s, another Dalit academic who killed himself in January last year, students at University of Hyderabad said.
Before JNU, Muthukrishnan studied at University of Hyderabad where Vemula committed suicide, an incident that sparked nationwide outrage over caste discrimination on campuses.
Muthukrishnan was suffering from depression and was not sleeping well for the past few days, Delhi Police said on Tuesday. The 29-year-old was found hanging at a friend’s house in Munirka Vihar, close to the JNU campus, on Monday evening.
While police began an investigation into the alleged suicide, Muthukrishnan’s father Jeevanantham alleged foul play and demanded a CBI probe. On Tuesday, he filed a police complaint alleging that he was facing harassment by the JNU administration because of his caste and a thorough investigation must be conducted into the suspicious death of his son. Jeevanantham said his son was not under any medication for depression.
His friends at the university said soon after Vemula’s death, Muthukrishnan had written in his blog: “Dear anti-nationals, let me tell you, one day this nation’s leader is going to sell all. Just for a selfie and for a standing ovation from the outsiders. Hundreds and hundreds of Dappa Rao’s are going to kill thousands of Rohiths and they are going to say, ‘He/She was a gifted student’.”
Police said Muthukrishnan reportedly went to the house of his friend, Goman Kim, a Korean national, in Munirka Vihar for lunch around 1pm. “He was reportedly soaked in colour. His friend Goman told us that he asked Krishnan to wash off the colour and relax for a while because he looked tired. Muthukrishnan told Goman that he was not in a good mood and that he had slept at 3am the previous night. Goman then asked him to freshen up and sleep for a while in his room till the lunch was ready,” DCP, South, Ishwar Singh said.
Muthukrishnan then retired to the room and locked it from inside, while Goman and the others stayed outside.
“Later in the afternoon,two other friends also reached here. After the lunch was ready, they knocked at the door, but Muthukrishnan did not respond. Thinking that he must be in deep sleep, the friends did not disturb. When he did not open the door till 5pm, they got worried and went to check on him. One of his friends then peeped inside through a crack and saw him hanging from the fan. He had used a thin blanket to prepare the noose,” Singh said.
Investigators said in JNU, Muthukrishnan was not affiliated to any political party or union. He had joined the course in October and was staying in Jhelum hostel.
Recently, Muthukrishnan had written five Facebook posts, the last on March 10, in which he narrated an episode from his childhood to explain how Dalits are treated.
In one post, he recounts a time when he was travelling with his father carrying dry fish and was shunned by people because of the stench from the fish. In the post, he compared the dry fish to Dalits.
“He has written five Facebook posts and all five seem interlinked. One is based on his life in Salem and others in Delhi. In a post on Professor Sukhdeo Singh Thorat, Muthukrishnan writes that he wanted to address students at admin block but because of the decision to ban protest, he could not,” a police officer said.
Responding to this, Thorat said, “Two days back I had gone to JNU to deliver a lecture, so the boy in his Facebook post has mentioned. He is also talking about the committee which was formed under the ministry of health which I had chaired after a suicide of a student at AIIMS. He is talking about how that committee guidelines have not been implemented. ”
The university expressed a “deep sense of shock and anguish at the untimely and sad demise of Muthukrishnan J”.