In a shocking incident in Delhi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women died by suicide on November 3 after failing to receive an instalment of her scholarship that was due in March.
A resident of Telangana's Rangareddy district, Aishwarya was a topper in class 12th but was not financially stable, and had to mortgage her house in order to fund her higher education.
She was a Mathematics student in LSR but was not able to afford her studies and exclaimed in her suicide note that she did not want to burden her family and did not want a life without education.
Labelling her death as "institutional murder" protests have erupted demanding justice for her.
Student's Federation of India (SFI) in a statement said that Aishwarya and her family were under immense financial pressure and not receiving the March instalment of the INSPIRE scholarship added to the family's woes.
Getting in touch with the LSR student's committee, Aishwarya stated that she was not able to take part in her studies effectively as the online classes timing clashes with her household works, the data charges and a proper internet connection had already burdened her family with a lot of financial crisis.
She was also not able to take part in the online classes as she did not have a laptop nor the study material was available to her as reported by News18.
Co-convener of the committee Lekshmi on the whole issue said, "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."
Student Union General Secretary of LSR, Unnimaya, after confirming all the facts of Aishwarya's death issued a statement saying that she was also very disturbed after the sudden decision of the LSR administration to deny hostel facilities for all students except freshers.
She said, "The college administration should answer for the steps they take without regard for their impact."
In her statement, she also stated, "It was allegedly conveyed to her that the scholarship amount could only come after the conclusion of the second year. The UGC and other agencies have failed to provide scholarships and cited the pandemic as an excuse for the same. Hence a retrospective scholarship promise, at an uncertain date when the student availing it needs it the most now, is an act of deliberate negligence and insensitivity."
Condemning the whole incident various student organisations stated that the Union Grants Commission (UGC) has stopped the distribution of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) as well.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Student's Union issued a statement saying, "This amounts to institutional murder. LSR and DST are complicit and should be held to account."
Student demanded a judicial allocation of all the resources by the government and stated that "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 same issue regarding scholarships was raised by research scholars in the month of August.
Stepping into the matter ESLA the LSR alumni association issued a statement which said that "Principal and the college are equally shocked as the 'name of the deceased' had never approached the department or admin or principal or faculty for any help. LSR has a certified counsellor who is there for help for the students. College policies are very transparent regarding hostel accommodation being for one year."
A student's collective comprising of former Bahujan students condemned the statement by ESLA and said: "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 student collective also claimed that ESLA's statement had blamed the victim of not approaching the college administration for her issues rather it should be the duty of the college administration to ensure that every student has access to education in these difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administration's unjust move to ask students to move out of their hostel amid the pandemic and search for expensive alternatives is also condemned by the student's collective.
On the other LSR administration stated, "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."
On behalf of the committee, they said, "LSR remains committed to the welfare of each of its students in these difficult times."