Aishwarya was not paid her government scholarship since March and later was asked to vacate her hostel at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in Delhi.

Aishwarya Reddy posing for a photograph at Lady Shri Ram College for Women Delhi
news Death Monday, November 09, 2020 - 12:30

“Nobody is the reason for my death. My family is having to bear a lot of expenses because of me. I am a burden to them, my education is a burden to them….” A day after she wrote this note, Aishwarya Reddy, a student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women in Delhi, was found dead at her home in Hyderabad’s Shadnagar. Aishwarya was a state topper in Class 12 and had qualified for the INSPIRE scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology. 

However, according to the Students' Federations of India (SFI), since March, the funds for the second year of her scholarship never reached Aishwarya, who was pursuing her second year BSc (Honours) in Mathematics. Her mother, a tailor, and her father, a mechanic by profession, had been struggling since the lockdown was imposed in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With funds from the scholarship fund still pending, her parents mortgaged their home for her education. 

Aishwarya aspired to be an IAS officer, says her family, and she was preparing to attend the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam in two years. The family had mortgaged their home for Rs 2 lakh, pawned gold ornaments and had even taken the younger sibling out of school to fund Aishwarya's education. The family was even struggling to arrange funds for her outside hostel accommodation and even fund train tickets to send her back to Delhi. This put the 19-year-old under immense pressure.

“I cannot live without education. I’ve been thinking about this for many days. I felt death is only correct,” Aishwarya wrote in her last note, adding, “See to it that INSPIRE scholarship is released at least for one year. Everyone please forgive me. I am not a good daughter.” 

On November 2, the 19-year-old from Telangana died by suicide at her home in Hyderabad's Shadnagar. Her death has triggered protests at the Delhi University. The Student Federation of India (SFI) in their statement to the press has alleged that the student had not received her scholarship funds since March after a delay in payments from the Ministry despite several letters written to the Ministry and the college administration. 

The LSR students' union Committee for Inclusive Education had sent emails to the administration informing them about Aishwarya’s financial struggles. Students said that Aishwarya did not have a laptop or access to a steady internet. Mobile data packs were burning a hole in the pocket of the already financially stressed family.

Aishwarya’s responses to a survey conducted by the Committee for Inclusive Education also showed that she was distressed with the circumstances of her education. Because of the difficulties in accessing the internet, she could attend only less than three hours of classes in the five to eight hours of classes that were conducted each day. She had also said that she had not received all the required study material. 

"They are teaching well but I don't have a laptop, and my mobile is not working well, so I am unable to do any practical paper," her response said. She also said that the increased hours of classes had affected her mental and physical health 

Aishwarya had gotten the seat at LSR in Delhi on merit and was residing at the college hostel. However, the administration had asked the students entering the second year to vacate the premises by November 10, making things more difficult for her, Aishwarya was also reportedly sent a WhatsApp message by the hostel warden to vacate the premises by November 7. 

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726

Click here for working helplines across India.

Also read: Negligence by LSR admin and Union govt claimed Aishwarya's life, alleges SFI

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