IIT-B student’s death: Mumbai Police quiz kin; candle marches in Guj on Feb 19

Mumbai: A three-member team of Mumbai Police on Thursday met the family members of Darshan Solanki, a student of IIT-Bombay who ended his life on the Powai campus on February 12 – and recorded their statements, a family member said.

The police called on Solanki’s family members at their home in Maninagar on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on Thursday morning and posed various questions pertaining to 18-year-old Solanki’s sudden death.

Simultaneously, several student bodies in Gujarat will hold a peace procession which will culminate with a candle-lit march to pay homage to Solanki, the relative told IANS, but declined to be quoted.

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The procession and candle march will be held in Ahmedabad and several other cities of Gujarat between 6.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. on Sunday, he added.

A day before, the distraught family had expressed suspicions of foul play behind the extreme measure taken by Solanki – who hailed from a Dalit family – shocking the educational circles all over the country.

The police had earlier recorded the family’s initial statements and are now questioning other students and hostelites on various aspects, including allegations of caste discrimination, which the IIT-B management has officially denied.

A student body on the campus, Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle-IITB, had issued a detailed statement last Monday pointing at alleged caste discrimination, which the IIT-B has rejected outright.

Meanwhile, Dalit leader and Congress MLA from Vadgam, Jignesh Mevani, on Thursday demanded an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the death of Solanki.

Mevani told the media in Ahmedabad that the tragic incident involved a Dalit student who got into IIT Bombay after clearing the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) with flying colours.

The Maharashtra government should set up an SIT to probe the incident because the family suspects foul play, Mevani said. The Dalit leader also demanded that the government should pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to the deceased student’s family.

Solanki’s father, Ramesh Solanki, has alleged that his son was harassed by the other students because “we are Dalits”.

“When he visited us during Makar Sankranti, he had complained to his aunt that the other students were harassing him, taunting him that ‘because you are a Dalit, you got an opportunity to study free of cost’,” Ramesh Solanki said.

In a related development, the students of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalay in Wardha have sent a memorandum to President Draupadi Murmu urging the Centre to enact a ‘Rohith Vemula Act’ to safeguard students from marginalised communities in nationally important institutions of higher learning and end the suicides that are being reported from there, citing the two cases – one each at IIT-B and IIT-Madras this week – and an attempted suicide case in IIT-Madras.

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