A student of Delhi’s LSR College for Women died by suicide on November 2 at her hometown in Telangana, leaving behind a purported suicide note in which she cited financial difficulties.
Aishwarya Reddy, a B.Sc. Mathematics (Honors) student, hanged herself at her home in Shahnagar of Ranga Reddy district. As per her family, in a note written in Telugu, Aishwarya Reddy said she wanted to become an IAS and had come to the home after the lockdown announcement in March, but did not want to become a burden on her family.
“No one is responsible for my death. I don’t want to become a burden on the family. I can’t live without studying, I was thinking about it and this [death] is the only way left for me,” the note reads.
A Mathematics student who could not afford her education said in her suicide note that she did not want to be a burden on her family and did not want a life without education. Protests have since erupted demanding justice for her and her death has been labeled as “institutional murder”.
Daughter of an auto mechanic Srinivas Reddy and mother Sumathi, a tailor, Aishwarya’s sister had to drop out of school since the family could not afford education for both.
Aishwarya’s father said he took a loan of Rs.2 lakh after mortgaging their home and pled
ged gold ornaments for her higher education, which further added to the family’s financial crisis.
The family of the 19-year-old said Aishwarya was the state Class 12 examination topper and secured a seat in a Delhi college based on merit. She was a recipient of the government’s ‘Inspire’ scholarship, offered by the Ministry of Science and Technology, but wasn’t sure if she would receive the full amount.
Aishwarya was receiving the INSPIRE scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. However, the scholarship was callously delayed by the government since March, putting her and her family under extreme financial pressure, a statement issued by the Student’s Federation of India (SFI) said.
Aishwarya had made it clear to the LSR students’ union Committee for Inclusive Education that she did not have a proper internet connection for online classes, which had already placed an extra financial burden on her family owing to expenditure on data packs. She had said that she could not give her best to her studies as she did not have a laptop and study material was not available to her. Moreover, the timing of her classes clashed with her household work.
The Committee has repeatedly sent emails to the LSR administration, but all in vain as they did not receive any fruitful response. Plus, the delay in scholarship points to the apathy of the central government towards hardworking students from such backgrounds.
Several organizations have condemned the incident, while also pointing out that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has frozen the disbursal of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) as well.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) issued a statement saying, “This amounts to institutional murder. LSR and DST are complicit and should be held to account.”
The government must judiciously allocate the available resources, the students demanded as “due to non-disbursal of the INSPIRE scholarship (released by the Department of Science and Technology), a student of Lady Shri Ram College under Delhi University was forced to commit suicide 4 days ago.”
The issue of delayed scholarships was raised by research students in August as well.
A student expressed “In the wake of the institutional murder of our friend, the LSR Alumni association has released an extremely insensitive statement that indulges in outrageous victim-blaming and defends the faulty and exclusionary education system of the college.”
The students condemned the administration’s “absolutely harassing and unjust move” to ask students to vacate hostels on short notice in the midst of a pandemic and force them to look for alternative and expensive accommodation even when there is no urgency.
Meanwhile, the LSR administration expressed shock at the death, “LSR Community has received, with deep sorrow and shock, the news of the demise of one of our students. The unfortunate incident happened at her hometown where she was living after the LSR hostel was closed as part of a nationwide shutdown of educational institutions ordered by the Union as well as the Delhi government. LSR remains committed to the welfare of each of its students in these difficult times.”
Our education is really good at burdening students. They always do what they want to do without keeping in concern how students must be feeling. There have millions of deaths, Suicide due to our system. We have lost so many talented aspirants. How many deaths more until our system realizes that fault is there not ours.
Rip to her soul. She would have done wonders for the country.