Students call off hunger strike as IIT-M vows action over Fathima Latheef's suicide

Students call off hunger strike as IIT-M vows action over Fathima Latheef's suicide
Two students of the IIT Madras, Azhar Moideen and Justin Joseph on an indefinite hunger strike demanding a fair probe in the alleged suicide case of 19-year-old student Fatima Latheef in Chennai. PTI

Chennai: The two IIT-Madras students, who had embarked on an indefinite 'hunger strike' over the death of Kerala student Fathima Latheef, announced withdrawal of their protest on Tuesday following assurance from the management to meet their key demands.

"We have called off the (hunger) strike," Azhar Moideen, who pursues MA English Studies, told mediapersons here on Tuesday.

They had launched the indefinite fast on the campus, demanding an internal inquiry into the conduct of faculty as sought by the family of the woman student who reportedly committed suicide recently.

The fast was called off following assurance from the Dean that two of their demands would be implemented "at the earliest," while that for a probe into the conduct of faculty would be discussed with the Director later, Azhar said.

The Director was currently not in town and this subject came under his jurisdiction, Moideen said quoting the Dean.

Moideen said the Dean has sent a mail to all the students, assuring their demand for setting up a complaints and redressal system in every department would be implemented "at the earliest", besides a study on external issues faced by the students at the premier technical varsity.

Moideen and Justin Joseph, a research scholar in International Affairs, had commenced the fast on Monday, nearly 10 days after the alleged suicide of Fathima Latheef, a first-year Humanities student hailing from Kollam in Kerala.

Students call off hunger strike as IIT-M vows action over Fathima Latheef's suicide
Father of Fathima Latheef, who was found hanging in her hostel room at the IIT-Madras, addresses media after meeting with Tamil Nadu police chief on Friday. PTI

Both Moideen and Joseph represent ChintaBAR, an informal students' body recognised by the IIT-M.

The hunger strike began after the administration failed to act on ChintaBAR's ultimatum to conduct a fair, transparent and time-bound internal investigation into the issues plaguing the campus by 10 am on Monday. Fathima's parents too had demanded, in their letter to the IIT-M director, an inhouse probe into the behaviour of the faculty.

ChintaBAR also sought a survey by an external agency on the issues faced by the students and formation of complaints and grievances cell in all departments. The official students' body – Students' Legislative Council – had raised these demands several months ago.

Fathima allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself in her hostel room on November 9. This was the fifth student suicide on the IIT-M campus in the past two years.

Fathima's parents and siblings had met Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday pleading for a fair investigation into the incident. They also demanded the arrest of her professor Sudarshan Padmanabhan, who, they alleged, was responsible for her death.

(With PTI inputs)

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