Aishwarya Reddy, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women in Delhi, died by suicide in her Hyderabad home on November 2. In a note, she wrote that her education had become a “burden” to her parents, who had struggled to fund her education by mortgaging their home. Aishwarya had been doing well in academics since school and had gone to LSR to study BSc (Hons) Mathematics under a scholarship from the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. Yet, she had been distressed because of her educational expenses, and student groups have alleged that she had not received her scholarship funds since March this year.
Congress leader and Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi has expressed his condolences to Aishwarya’s family. He also blamed the BJP government for “destroying” many families through the nationwide lockdown.
“My condolences to the family members of this student in this very sad moment. The BJP government has destroyed countless homes, through demonetisation and the lockdown, which were done deliberately. This is the truth,” Rahul Gandhi wrote.
Aishwarya’s parents said that they had been struggling financially due to the lockdown. Living on a daily wage, the parents said that they even took out loans for their Aishwarya’s education. The economic distress that the family faces had also lead to a lot of tension and arguments at home, the family told TNM. In a survey conducted by the Committee for Inclusive Education under the LSR Students’ Union, Aishwarya’s responses showed that she was facing difficulties in accessing online classes and that her family had to spend an extra amount of money for internet data packs.
Aishwarya had been staying at the LSR hostel, but the administration had asked students entering the second year to vacate the premises by November 10, making things more difficult for her. Her family had been struggling to arrange money for the expenses of her accommodation outside the hostel, and even for her travel back to Delhi, according to reports.
Aishwarya’s mother said that her daughter mentioned that living outside the hostel would cost around Rs 15,000 per month, and that she would also need a laptop, and a new smartphone. Her death has triggered protests by various student organisations at Delhi University.