Father of JNU research student J Muthukrishnan, who allegedly committed suicide on Monday evening, was looking forward to meet his son in April but a phone call about his son’s death turned his life upside down.
Muthukrishnan’s father Jeevanandhaam M, a security guard at a private firm in Salem, Tamil Nadu, reached Delhi on Tuesday morning and headed to AIIMS. “I spoke to him on Sunday and he said he will come home in April. He cannot commit suicide. I never heard him talk of anything but studies. There should be CBI investigation in this case,” he said.
In a complaint to police, he said he was informed by son’s friends that he was facing “constant caste-based harassment and discrimination in his academic pursuits from his centre and the JNU administration.”
Political leaders, including CPI’s D Raja and leaders from AIDMK, DMK and Congress, visited Muthukrishnan’s family members at AIIMS. On Tuesday evening, JNU officials, including the Registrar went to AIIMS and met students and police personnel. Meanwhile, police said a medical board has been formed to conduct the post-mortem and the process will be videographed.
Muthukrishnan wanted to do research on ‘History of Medicines’. Rahul Sonpimple, one of the last persons to meet Muthukrishnan before his death, said they bonded over the movie ‘Kabali’ and sharing books. “He was a Kabali fan and we would imitate dialogues from the movie. Other than that he was too much into studies. He once told me he will not come for a protest because he had to study. He was always studying in library and it was like he lived in the library,” he said.
Sonpimple, a member of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA), alleged that Muthukrishnan was feeling alienated and discriminated at the center for historical studies where he was pursuing MPhil. “He used to mention about how he felt alienated at the Center because unlike others he could not speak fluent English,” he said.
Police have no evidence to suggest his suicide was a result of discrimination at the campus.
Vikas Kumar Moola, a PhD student and Muthukrishnan’s friend, said he used to visit him regularly for the last one week.
“He was feeling alienated in his department. He wanted to change his supervisor and had requested for another professor. He told his current supervisor about it. But later nothing was confirmed and he was feeling pressured as others had already started work,” he said.
Speaking at the meeting Rajat Datta, a faculty member from CHS said Muthukrishnan’s request for change of supervisor was in pipeline. “Change of supervisor is not an individual trade off. We do receive requests from students for it. Entire faculty takes stock and decides what to do. We do it in April as per protocol and his application was in pipeline,” he said.
Vijaya Ramaswamy, chairperson of CHS said, “At the initial stage we don’t have supervisor but advisor. Students may choose to stay with their advisor for dissertation or may seek a change as then the advisor becomes supervisor. There is absolutely no discrimination at the center.”
JNUTA member Pradeep Shinde said, “If you notice any classmate excessively worried about his grades then bring it to the notice of your chairperson and build confidence that he or she is not alone.”