New Delhi: Students and women groups staged protests in Delhi on Monday, demanding justice for a student of the Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College for Women, who allegedly died by suicide last week over concerns of pursuing education in view of the poor financial conditions of her family.
The student, an IAS aspirant, was found hanging at her Shadnagar house in Telangana's Ranga Reddy district on November 2. In a suicide note purportedly written by her, the 19-year-old woman said she did not want to burden her parents with her educational expenses, police said.
The SFI protested on the call of LSR Students Union, along with other organisations in front of the Ministry of Science and Technolgy, demanding the resignation of Dr. Harshvardhan
“Aishwarya was a state topper in the board exams and was selected for the Inspire Scholarship Scheme by the Ministry of Science and Technology. After March, when the students and their parents had to face terrible financial crisis, the ministry withheld the scholarship amount. Aishwarya was compelled to take these steps due to the circumstances those emerged because of unplanned lockdown and ministry not releasing scholarship amount. For us, Aishwarya's suicide is an institutionalised murder of a promising student coming from a underprivileged background,” SFI said in a statement.
The gathering was addressed Unnimaya, General Secretary of LSR Student's Union, JNUSU President Aishi Ghosh and SFI State Secretariat Member, also former LSR student, Comrade Monica.
LSR Student Union General Secretary Unnimaya said: 'Despite continously informing the LSR administration regarding the deteriorating financial and mental health of students, no positive action was taken'.
JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said: said, that the government hasn't release scholarships for students since the lockdown. “
SFI Joint Secretary Monica said, “Dr. Harshvardhan should take moral responsibility and resign from his post as Minister”.
While members of the Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI) protested outside the residence of Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank", the Left-affiliated All India Students 'Association (AISA) staged protest at Arts Faculty in Delhi University. The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) also issued a statement.
According to the police, seven NSUI members were detained for a few hours and a case was registered against them under the Disaster Management Act.
"Scholarships are to reward a student's academic achievement and educational prowess. Be it while starting your career or studying in high school to grow new abilities, receiving a scholarship is a prominent achievement. The Indian education system begets issues in it. One of the major issues is the increase in the cost of college, school and university fees," NSUI national secretary Lokesh Chugh said.
"The student from Telangana committed suicide after being denied scholarship for over a year by the government. She had written to the administration about the problems she was facing but unfortunately, received no response from the authorities. This is just a recent example of how imperative scholarships are for students. When the government delays the provision of funds to students, it puts them and their families under immense pressure," he added.
LSR principal Suman Sharma, however, denied that the student had reached out to the college authorities.
"We have a counsellor at the college to help students if they are facing any challenges emotionally or mentally. However, nobody knew about her state of mind. It is unfortunate, we wish she had reached out either to her teachers or the counsellor or anybody in the college," she said.
In a statement, the AISA said, "We pledge to stand and struggle in solidarity with all the forces dedicated to deliver justice to the family and the student community. We demand that all the un-disbursed fellowships and scholarships be disbursed immediately to both the grieving family and the student community."
The All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) said "in a country where the gross enrolment ratio of girl students into higher educational institutions shows a pathetically skewed figure, a girl such as the LSR student, who struggled to reach Delhi with the dream for education, has been killed".
"We believe that the present government ruled by the BJP not only has been criminal in its actions towards Indian students and citizens, but has eroded all principles of justice and equality. It is consistently trampling upon the lives and livelihood of poor people in the country. It is therefore important to rise up against the policies and actions of the government," it said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "My condolences to the family members of the girl in this very sad moment. The BJP government destroyed countless homes due to the deliberate demonetisation and countrywide lockdown. This is the truth," Gandhi said on Twitter.