Chennai: Days after an IIT Madras student committed suicide over alleged religious discrimination, a professor's name too has surfaced in the case.
After the parents of Fathima Latheef, the deceased girl, alleged religious discrimination and humiliation by a faculty member, the concerned professor was summoned for an inquiry by the Chennai police. This came after parents had sought the intervention of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the matter.
A senior police officer in Chennai confirmed they has received a complaint from Fathima’s parents, and an inquiry with faculty and inmates of Sarayu hostel in the campus has begun.
"The professor concerned has been summoned for inquiry on Thursday. The girl’s parents will be reaching the city on the same day," said the officer.
Though the institution has not issued any statement concerning the new development, IIT sources had said the New Indian Express that the professor was questioned on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a suicide note purportedly written by the student has gone viral on the social media, stirring outrage and protests, with student activists terming her death as 'institutional murder'.
Speaking in Kerala, Fathima’s father has raised concern over the fairness in the conduct of the investigation. He said the police had taken her phone for forensic investigation, and they could tamper with the evidence to protect IIT’s reputation.
“When Fathima's phone was switched on by my daughter Aysha, it directly opened without asking for a password. Aysha was shocked to see the message in the home screen which read that one of Fathima's professors was responsible for her death," said Abdul Latheef, Fathima's father.
"As she wanted everyone to know the cause of her death, Fathima had removed her phone password. We are also afraid that as the police have not mentioned anything about the suicide note till date, they might try to tamper with it due to pressure from IIT authorities," he added.
Police, in their version, had reported that the girl was homesick and was struggling with the 'logistics' subject.
Fathima's family friends, including Kollam Mayor Rajendrababu, and her twin sister who are now in Chennai, were called by the Kotturpuram police for the inquest report.
"There we found her phone just lying on a table. We requested the phone, and when we switched it on we saw her note. We took a screenshot and sent it to our phones, to ensure the police don't tamper with the evidence," said Fathima's uncle Shine Dev.
A senior police officer, however, said that the phone would be opened and checked only after Fathima's parents reach Chennai on Thursday.
The officer has suspected that the purported suicide note could be fake.
The viral suicide note has outraged people from all walks of life and forced many to come out on the street to show their solidarity with the family of the deceased.
In Kerala, members of Kollam SFI carried a protest rally, demanding a fair probe into the case. The rally was started from Government Women IIT, Kollam, on Wednesday and was led by Fathima's twin sister Aysha.
"We have taken out the protest demanding punishment for the faculty member responsible for Fathima's suicide," said Adarsh M Saji, SFI district secretary. At least 18 such protests were carried out in the district.
In Chennai, around 20 members of the Campus Front of India, a students' organisation, protested in front of the institute on Wednesday, demanding a CBI inquiry.
Following the wide-spread outrage, Chennai Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan on Thursday announced that the case has been handed over to Central Crime Branch for investigation.
''I visited the spot and examined several people to find out the truth... A team, headed by Additional Commissioner and few senior officers, would be formed to give a better picture of the sensitive case,'' he told ANI.
CPM State secretary K Balakrishnan also urged the police to initiate an early probe into Fathima's death.