Dalit research scholar of Jawaharlal Nehru University has threatened to commit suicide if the university does not release his senior research fellowship. In a letter received by the JNU vice-chancellor on January 25, the scholar alleged that he has been denied extension for pursuing his PhD for over a year now.
Madan Meher, registered with International Organization Division at JNU’s Center for Inter national Politics Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD), alleged that he was refused ‘9b’ — a one-year extension given to students to complete PhD after usual term of four years if the student has completed 90% of work – for one year and four months despite submitting required chapters.
“If you will not provide my remaining SRF of one year within one week, then I will make suicide in front of administrative bloc, JNU, New Delhi. For this death, you and JNU will be responsible (sic),” Meher wrote in his letter sent four days after a Dalit student committed suicide in the University of Hyderabad leading to an uproar in the student community.
Meher, who has qualified NET/JRF, also that claimed an RTI reply revealed not a single Dalit student has got PhD from his centre. He said that he could only get 9(b) last year after three attempts. “ORG/CIPOD deliberately blocked my 9(b), because they know that if they block my PhD 9(b) for more than one year then I will not get scholarship, and through which I will not survive in JNU, and finally I will not be able to complete my PhD (sic),” he wrote.
Vice-chancellor SK Sopory said that he had asked the administration to keep a watch on the student and prevent him from taking any extreme step.
“I have asked the departments concerned to look into this issue and it will be resolved within a day or two,” said Sopory.
Meher had started his PhD in 2010 and applied for a 9 (b) extension in 2014 but it was only in May 2015 that he got the extension. The university officials maintained that the student had taken a grant of ` 66,000 for a field trip in 2013 but did not go for it and until the student settles the account, his SRF cannot be released.
“The student was allotted money for a field trip to Brussels but he did not go for that. Later for around a year and a half he de-registered from his PhD. He re-registered only last year in July. His SRF from July can be released once he settles the previous balance. He needs to get clearance from his supervisor,” said Hanuman Sharma, controller of examination.
“I am from a very poor family and I had to use the field trip allocation for a family emergency. I thought I would pay it back using my SRF but first I was denied extension and then my SRF is not being released,” Meher said.
JNU’s student union on Tuesday took up the issue and said, “Victimisation of Dalits is a larger problem across Universities. We had meetings with administration and they have assured that this problem will be solved,” said Rama Naga, general secretary JNUSU.