IIT Madras scholar suicide: Brother accuses PhD guide of exerting ‘undue pressure’

The brother of Sachin Kumar Jain, a PhD scholar who died by suicide on March 31, levelled a series of allegations against Sachin’s guide in a letter to the Director of IIT Madras.
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Representative image of a man's silhouette
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The family of Sachin Kumar Jain, a research scholar in the Indian Insitute of Technology (IIT) Madras who died by suicide recently, has sought a detailed probe into his death. In a letter addressed to IIT Madras Director Prof V Kamakoti, Sachin’s older brother Bhavesh has accused his brother’s PhD guide Ashish Kumar of exerting “undue pressure” on him. In a six-page letter, Bhavesh alleged that Sachin was reprimanded often by his PhD guide, who had allegedly overloaded him with work. This was despite the fact that Sachin was under medication for mental health issues which his guide knew about, Bhavesh said. “Sachin decided to take his own life after the inhuman treatment meted out to him by his PhD guide,” he wrote in the letter.

Sachin’s suicide has caused unrest among students, with many putting up posters in the IIT premises accusing the management of institutional murder. Speaking to TNM, Prof Kamakoti confirmed that he received a complaint from Bhavesh Jain a few days ago, and has asked the internal inquiry committee to probe into the issue. “The inquiry committee will carry out a thorough investigation, record statements of all those who are involved and submit its report within two or three weeks,” the director said.

He also told TNM that IIT Madras has adopted a new process of constituting an internal inquiry committee to carry out a thorough probe into such cases. However, pressure is mounting on the institute’s management to conduct an unbiased probe. The Joint Action Committee (JAC) for mental health has said that the allegations levelled by Bhavesh Jain are very serious and have called for a thorough probe. The committee has also demanded that an external member, who is an expert in the field, join the investigation team. They also demanded that the research and academic activities of Ashish Kumar be suspended during the time of the investigation.

Sachin, a 31-year-old PhD scholar from West Bengal, was found dead in his home in Chennai’s Velachery on March 31. According to the JAC, “Sachin had come to the lab that morning for a discussion with his guide. Later in the afternoon, he died by suicide after putting up a WhatsApp status that said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not good enough’.” This is the third case of suicide reported from IIT Madras since February this year.

Reacting to the complaint lodged by Bhavesh, Chinta BAR, an independent student body in IIT Madras, has demanded that the ongoing internal investigation should address all the allegations he has raised. “We demand the institute administration to take this complaint in a serious manner and to conduct the investigation in an unbiased manner,” the student body said in a statement.

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.

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584


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


Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

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)


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.

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