New Delhi: SIO President expressed his condolence to the family of Fathima Latheef. “We stand by the family of Fathima Latheef in their time of grief and join them in their efforts to secure justice. I urge everyone to remember Fathima Latheef in their prayers and also pray for the Almighty to give her family the patience and strength to bear this loss. At the same time, we must also remember that this is not the case of any ordinary suicide, it is a matter of institutional murder motivated by the Islamophobic and caste-driven attitudes of faculties at IIT – Madras. It is high time that we wake up to the reality of institutional discrimination and racism in this country that has lead to the institutional murder of bright young students like Rohit Vemula, Dr Payal Tadvi, Fathima Latheef and many others” Labeed Shafi said.

A bright 19-year-old student, Fathima Latheef blamed Sudarshan Padmanabhan, a member of the faculty at IIT – Madras for her death. Her father has also come forward to say that Fathima had been complaining about torture and harassment due to her faith by her some of the teachers, saying that for many of them “her name itself is the problem” and that “They were disgusted to see a Muslim name topping every test”.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first such case and there have been at least five such suicides committed by students and academics in just the last one year. It is part of a larger systemic pattern of discrimination and harassment faced by students coming from minority and marginalised communities, particularly Dalits and Muslims. We must take this unfortunate death as a grave reminder of the casteist and Islamophobic attitudes prevalent in our educational institutions. There is an urgent need to have a frank and honest national conversation around this problem and work towards concrete legal protections and safeguards to root out the causes of institutional murder.

Department of Media, SIO of India.
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