Outrage Over ‘Suicide’ of Ad-Hoc Teacher Displaced From DU’s Prestigious Hindu College
Photo by Ravi Kaushal
New Delhi: Samarveer Singh, an ad-hoc teacher removed from Delhi University’s Hindu College in North Campus recently, allegedly died by suicide on Wednesday. As per police sources, he was found hanging in his home in Pitampura. Later, his brother informed the police and a post-mortem was conducted at Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital in North West Delhi.
Outraged over the philosophy teacher’s death, students and teachers termed it as “institutional murder”, alleging that he was driven to it as he was expecting to get permanent and instead lost his job.
Talking to NewsClick over phone, the deceased teacher’s brother said he was depressed after his removal from the college. “He was perturbed by the fact that he had served in the college for seven years and someone else had taken his position because of his political affiliation to the ruling party. He would often repeat his predicament,” said his brother,
A former ad-hoc colleague, who too has been removed and wished to remain anonymous, told NewsClick that he and Samarveer talked for hours before the alleged suicide and he would console him about possible avenues for jobs. “He was pretty much disturbed. We were planning something and this tragic news came. It is devastating,” he said.
The young teacher's death has caused outrage among the teachers and students who termed it “institutional murder” alleging “connivance” of the Delhi University Administration.
Monami Basu, Member, Academic Council, Delhi University, who participated in a condolence meeting-cum-protest held in Delhi University organised by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) inside the college said that the tragic death was the result of mass scale displacement facilitated by college principals who could not stand by their colleagues and “adhered to the diktats” by members of ruling party at the Centre.
“I am calling it an institutional murder because it was caused by failures of this inefficient system. People should know the circumstances in which teachers like Samarveer did so much hard work during the pandemic and afterwards. They have been performing more hours than permanent teachers. What’s the value of life, when a person committed suicide and the college is celebrating its annual festival without any remorse? He shared his lunch with faculty members for seven years, made huge emotional investment and was ousted from his job after a five-minute interview. Just imagine the stress that people with children working in ad hoc positions go through after such humiliation.”
Elaborating on the dismal working conditions of ad-hoc teachers, Basu said: “While campaigning for Academic Elections, I could sense that there was immense mental pressure on ad-hoc teachers. Any sensitive person would break down. Teachers are being uprooted and have been told that they will be paid per class because there are no vacant positions.”
Rusham Sharma, a second-year student of B.A (Hons.) philosophy, recalled that students would wait for Samaveer’s classes even though he did not mingle much with students. Talking to NewsClick after the condolence meet, she said: “I was checking the website of a private elite university in Sonipat and found that it had engaged only western teachers. People are paying fee in lakhs to pay these white people and our teachers are being forced to commit suicide. One of our best teachers, who wanted us to read the best literature, has left us. When I heard the news, I was angry but we decided that we will not let it go.”
Sharma said, “You can kill a person through two means. Either shoot him or suffocate him mentally. I just got to know that he (Samarveer) did not discuss his humiliation with his family. It is so heart-breaking.”
Recalling his teacher’s qualities, Rohith B, another philosophy department student, said students looked up to Samarveer and other teachers. “I had very low attendance but if I were to attend any classes, it would be his.”
Abhigyan Gandhi from All India Students Association (AISA), which also organised a protest outside the college, told NewsClick that several teachers had been displaced after “close monitoring of people associated with the ruling party and its friends.”
“They are shutting the doors for teachers who have decades of service experience in favour of people close to RSS and BJP. It’s a clear pattern now, and there is immense anguish among students and teachers. We have seen a protest in Kirori Mal College when an ad-hoc teacher in the political science department was ousted. We will try to channelise this anguish into the movement so that no other teacher takes such a step.”
Nandita Narain, former president, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), also alleged that experienced teachers were being “massacred to accommodate people close to the ruling party.”
“Teaching is not everybody’s job and these people gained experience with time and proved that they can teach students with competence. Nowhere in the world are appointments made on the basis of interviews alone. After the UGC notification in 2018, the interview, which constituted only 20% weightage, was given 100% weightage. It’s a ready-made system for corruption. There is no weightage to teaching experience, number of papers published etc. These experienced teachers, who served for two decades, have been shown the door after two-minute interviews.”
As per data collated by teachers, 304 ad-hoc teachers were displaced by January 16 this year.
Narain cited the example of Ramjas College’s physics department where 27 vacancies were advertised and 18 teachers were serving. “This means all these 18 teachers could have been regularised. Yet, only four teachers were retained. It is enough to portray that the university administration, along with principals, have no sympathy with teachers and they want people close to BJP only.”
Flaying the current DUTA leadership. She said they “did not show any interest in pursuing principals to regularise these teachers. Had they built pressure, the scenario could have been much teacher-friendly.”
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