The father of IIT-Madras student Fathima Latheef had come to meet the state police chief in connection with the probe into his daughter’s suicide.

IIT-M never got in touch after my daughters death Fathima Latheefs father alleges
news Death Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 10:01

“IIT did not once get in touch with me following my daughter’s death. There was absolutely no response from the institute, even when we went to collect my daughter’s body,” said Abdul Latheef, the father of Fathima Latheef, the IIT-Madras first-year student who took her own life inside her hostel room on November 9. Abdul, a native of Kollam in Kerala, was addressing the media in Chennai on Friday. He, along with other relatives, had arrived in Chennai to meet the state DGP regarding the investigation into his daughter’s death.  

Notes taken from the deceased student’s mobile phone had named one of her professors as the cause of her death. She had also named two other professors for driving her to take her own life. 

Addressing the media after his meeting with Tamil Nadu DGP, Fathima’s father Abdul expressed confidence in the state police. He also condemned IIT-Madras for allegedly washing their hands off the whole incident. He added that Fathima had spoken up earlier about harassment from the professor she had accused in her notes. 

“She had mentioned that he was a bad man. She was scared to attend his classes. She did not even go to collect her mark sheet from him. Instead, her friend went and got it for her,” Abdul added. He also said that he believed the said professor was prejudiced against Fathima as she had consistently topped all her subjects. 

“We have seen e-mails where the professor (Sudarshan Padmanabhan) has asked her to meet him in order to get the additional 5 marks in his paper. She scored 13 out of 18 in the paper. But the answer she had written for the 5 marks was also correct,” a family member of the deceased student who accompanied Abdul added. 

Criticising IIT’s management, Abdul said that the principal of the institution had failed to hand over CCTV footage on the day of Fathima’s death, despite promising to do so. 

“My (other) daughter had asked for CCTV footages of the library, mess, hostel, back of the hostel etc on the day Fathima died, which the principal had promised to hand over within 2 hours. However, they went back on this promise. They also did not allow us to click pictures of the room in which she killed herself. We asked where she had gotten the rope to kill herself. The rope was not there in the room when we went. Her things were scattered everywhere. I suspect that he had entered the room after her death,” he said.

Abdul added that the Kerala Chief Minister, as well as the District Police Chief, had got in touch with the Tamil Nadu state police chief regarding Fathima’s death. 

“The Tamil Nadu DGP has promised that those behind the death of Fathima will be arrested immediately. The police said that they will ensure the arrests take place so that no girl would have to experience what my daughter had undergone. If at any point I am not satisfied with the probe, I will inform the media,” he added. 

IIT-Madras has drawn much flak following Fathima’s suicide, with students of the institute protesting in front of the Central Lecture Theatre on Thursday. The students demanded an external expert body to carry out a mental health study among students on campus. On Thursday, AK Viswanathan, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, announced that the case has been transferred to the Central Crime Branch. The students asked the institute to fully cooperate with the investigation and stand by Fathima’s parents.

Meanwhile, IIT-Madras on Friday issued a statement saying that the reputation of the institute was getting tarnished due to social media trolling.

"The social media trolling of the Institute, faculty members and students and trial by the media, even before the conclusion of the police investigation, is gravely demoralizing the students, faculty members and staff as well as their families, and tarnishing the reputation of one of the finest Institutes in the Country. Our faculty is known for its high quality, integrity and fairness (sic),” the statement read. 


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