JNU Dalit researcher threatens to kill self

JNU Dalit researcher threatens to kill self

A Dalit researcher at the Jawaharlal Nehru University has threatened to commit suicide in a letter to the vice-chancellor as he did not get clearance for the extension by another year for his senior research fellowship.

Vice-Chancellor (V-C) Sudhir Kumar Sopory told Deccan Herald that he has asked university officials to alert the police. He has also asked university’s chief security officer to keep an eye on the student.

JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) held a campus protest on Monday, alleging “caste discrimination” at the Centre for International Politics, Organisation and Disarmament (CIPOD). The case of alleged discrimination first came up during a meeting of student organisations, a JNU student and All India Students’ Association (AISA) member Mohit K Pandey said.

According to the Dalit researcher’s January 22 letter to the V-C, he has sought the university to let him resume his fellowship in a week’s time or he would commit suicide.

The university said it has promised him that it would resolve the issue by Wednesday.

H Sharma, Controller of Examinations, said that the extension of fellowship was withheld as he had not been able to get clearance from the university’s finance officer.

The researcher with International Organisation (ORG) division, CPIOD, had received an advance payment of Rs 66,000 for his field trip to Brussels, Belgium. His centre was unwilling to allow him to go on the field trip, the student has alleged in a separate letter sent later.

The student was supposed to return this advance amount to allow his fellowship to continue, Sharma said. But the money has not been returned. Also, the researcher deregistered himself as a JNU student between December 2013 and July 2015, Sharma said.

The student cited death of four members of his family, including his father and brother, as the reason for his absence from the university. Now that he has resumed his studies, he wants his fellowship to continue.

According to his second letter to the V-C, the student has alleged “discrimination and harassment” by his centre. He accused the centre of “blocking his PhD”. He told the university that no Dalit student has received a PhD from the ORG division since its inception. He claimed to have obtained this information through an RTI query.

The CIPOD, which runs four programmes, including ORG, is one of the oldest centres of the School of International Studies. “The spate of discrimination at the centre has force the concerned Dalit research scholar in PhD to declare his intent to commit suicide,” a JNUSU poster said. 

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