Despite the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) taking over the probe, there has been no progress in the case related to the death of Fathima Latheef, a 19-year-old student who was found dead in her hostel room at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, her parents have alleged.
The Klappana resident, a very bright student and a rank-holder, was a first-year student of Humanities when she reportedly ended her life on November 9, 2019. Her family had filed a complaint after retrieving a note from her phone, according to which she was facing harassment from some faculty members, forcing her to take the extreme step. She had joined IIT in July 2019 and was the class topper when she died. “CBI officials had called us a couple of times during the last months, but they are yet to take our statement. I have sent a mail to the CBI director sharing our grievances and I want to believe that my daughter will get justice,” said Latheef, Fathima’s father.
The case was transferred to the CBI when her family and a delegation of MPs visited Union Home Minister Amit Shah and handed over a memorandum signed by 41 MPs seeking a fair probe.
Her family had raised several allegations after the death as the screensaver of her phone and notes saved in it had named the persons responsible for her death. But with the Kotturpuram police insisting that they could not find any suicide note, her father had alleged that Tamil Nadu police was trying to botch up the investigation.
The initial assumption of the police was that Fathima committed suicide since she could not score good marks in the first semester examination. But according to her family, she had scored the highest marks in her class even in her last examination. They had also alleged that IIT authorities had prevented other students from talking to Fathima’s family and suspended the classes of her batch immediately after the incident.
Meanwhile, Kollam MP N.K. Premachandran has written to the Union Home Minister demanding a time-bound investigation. “The probe should be expedited as there is no breakthrough even one year after Fathima’s death. The CBI authorities also failed to respond to her father’s appeals and immediate steps should be taken to complete the probe,” he said.
Mr. Premachandran also observed that the mysterious deaths of students at IITs were a matter of major concern. “The reason for the increasing number of such incidents is the failure in finding and punishing the culprits,” he said.