Death of a Student: Personal Tragedy or National Shame?


Asma Rasheed, K. Satyanarayana and Uma Bhrugubanda

m 1

The suicide of Mudasir Kamran, a Kashmiri research scholar at the EFL University, Hyderabad has been described as "a personal issue" both by the university administration as well as other sections of society. Far from being so, we argue, his death is a symptom of a failure to acknowledge and respond to major shifts in higher education today. In fact, the act of naming it "personal" absolves the University as well as all of us of any responsibility for this tragic turn of events and precludes a critical reflection on the education system in India. Since 2009, sixteen new central universities have been added to the existing twenty-four. These have increased the number of students from dalit, adivasi and minority communities who are struggling to enter and persevere in the face of unwelcoming, stultified academic and administrative structures.

On the one hand, the Government has recognized the importance of supporting and nurturing groups that were hitherto excluded from educational opportunities through scholarship schemes like the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for SC/ST students and the Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minorities. On the other hand, this is not matched by a corresponding over-hauling of existing institutional cultures. Our universities have remain mired in older regimes of elitist, casteist and sexist thought and practice that refuse to engage with and adapt to new student needs, let alone challenges to established knowledge structures. This fact is underscored by the recent reports of a disturbingly large number of suicides by dalit students in premier institutions.

In EFLU itself, Mudasir's death is the fourth one in the last five years. The "facts" of this case have been widely reported and continue to be debated. Without repeating these, we wish to make three points—one, if Mudasir was recognized as "mentally disordered" or depressed for over two months, why was there no professional counseling offered? Though individual efforts by his supervisor and a senior faculty member were made, the situation demanded trained counselors and a support network from within the campus community. Two, if there was some form of "harassment," why was it not referred to a sexual harassment committee which would have brought in different perspectives and possible resolutions? The narrow framework of violence or deviant behavior which the Proctor and others seem to have worked with (and indeed continue to work with) reveals a chronic institutional insensitivity to "difference" in sexual orientation or even cultural expressions. Indeed, a more open atmosphere on campus where issues of friendships, relationships, sexuality, romance, rejection and harassment are discussed would surely facilitate a broader culture of tolerance and emotional support.

Three, the act of taking a Kashmiri Muslim student to a police station late at night cannot be dismissed merely as an "error of judgment." A law-and-order approach is willfully blind to the political nuances and the dynamics of some identities, such as dalits or minorities. It is reported that on coming out of the police station, Mudasir broke down inconsolably saying that this was the first time anyone from his family had ever stepped inside a police station. Given today's fraught political situation in the aftermath of the execution of Afzal Guru and the Hyderabad bomb blasts, the ramifications of involving the police and making this dispute public were very grave!

What are the consequences of simply setting up new universities or converting institutes into universities? EFL University is a case in point. It was originally set up as a language institute in 1958. Subsequently, it grew into a deemed university with teacher training and research as its primary focus. In 2007, it became a Central University when the B. A. and several other new academic programmes were introduced. In a single stroke, student population tripled and is now younger as well as more socio-economically diverse. To complicate matters, programmes specifically introduced for foreign students have also altered the dynamics of campus life. There is a serious lack of basic facilities such as water, adequate number of rooms and bathrooms as also proper food in the hostels. In addition, the lack of space for social interaction and facilities for sports or cultural activities compounds the stress and overwhelming sense of suffocation. To make matters worse, there have been no Student Council elections since 2009 and there are no elected student representatives. All of this is worsened by a stubborn refusal to reexamine hierarchies that work with easy binaries like merit/reservation, discipline/violence, intelligent/dull, hardworking/lazy.

A thorough investigation is urgently required. Firstly, to look into the incident of Mudasir Kamran and examine questions of institutional and social responsibility. Secondly, to prescribe measures to make our universities socially and culturally inclusive. More importantly, it will be our willingness to learn from such an investigation that will go a long way in making new as well as existing Central Universities truly national, democratic and egalitarian spaces. Else, we will continue to be on the brink of yet-another-tragedy not only at EFL University, but in institutions all over the country.


Please also read related articles published recently:

The Killing Fields of Academia: by N. Sukumar & Shailaja

An open letter to the EFL Community from Teachers' Front for Justice and Democracy

Fact Finding Report on Mudasir Kamran Mallah's Death: Bahujan Intellectuals' Collective

Statement in support of the struggle for justice for Mudasir Kamran: by Struggle Committee for Justice for Mudasir

Justice for Mudasir Kamran, Munavath Sriramulu and others: EFLU Students' Struggles: by Dalit Camera Team 

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce: The color of Kashmiri Blood in a Hyderabad Campus: by Achuth Ajit & Ria De



Asma Rasheed, K. Satyanarayana and Uma Bhrugubanda are faculty members at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.

Other Related Articles

Justice Karnan: A man caught up in the whirlwind of ideals
Saturday, 24 June 2017
  Dharmaraj Kumar I have been thinking of whether to write something to pursue the so-called 'curious case of Justice Karnan'- the title that flooded the mainstream media and finally brought... Read More...
Why RSS can’t accept even a Sanghi SC/ST/OBC Judge?
Friday, 23 June 2017
  S Kumar Nomination of Mr. Ram Nath Kovind for the presidential position has again brought the caste politics to the forefront of Indian politics. While a Brahmin appointment like the outgoing... Read More...
आर्य आक्रमण और भारत के पतन और अपेक्षित उत्थान के प्रश्न
Thursday, 22 June 2017
  संजय जोठे (Sanjay Jothe) अभी एक महत्वपूर्ण जेनेटिक रिसर्च सामने आई है जो आर्य... Read More...
Why the Sangh needs Ram Nath Kovind
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
  Mangesh Dahiwale The President of India is a ceremonial post. It is often compared with the "rubber stamp". But as the head of state, it is also a prestigious post. The orders are issued in... Read More...
Ram Nath Kovind is not a Dalit, Dalit is a Spring of Political Consciousness
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
  Saidalavi P.C. The propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels was so sharp in his thinking that we have come to quote his famous aphorism regarding the plausibility of a lie being... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Index of Articles in Features
Sunday, 07 May 2017
  2016 ~ Uniform Civil Code & Ashrafiya obsession with Triple Talaq by Ayaz Ahmad ~ Maratha Kranti (Muk) Morcha: When will Maratha women cross the threshold? by Sandhya Gawali ~... Read More...
Fight against the Misogyny & Casteism of 'Best Indian Memes for Creamy Teens', FB page
Friday, 06 January 2017
  Vinay Shende "My final words of advice to you are Educate, Agitate and Organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a... Read More...
The Death of a Historian in Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Sunday, 19 March 2017
  Jitendra Suna Speech made at the protest by BAPSA on 16th March, 2017 against the Institutional Murder of Muthukrishnan (Rajini Krish) I am Jitendra Suna, and I am from a remote village named... Read More...
Gangrape and Murder of a 16 year old Dalit girl in Sendurai, Tamil Nadu
Saturday, 21 January 2017
  (A condensed translation, by Trevor Jeyaraj, of Mr. Venpura Saravanan's Facebook post in Tamil ) N (16), daughter of Rajendran R of Sendurai taluk in Ariyalur district, Tamil Nadu, who... Read More...
Brahminical Patriarchy and Social Media
Friday, 27 January 2017
 Bhagyesha Kurane Social media has become an integral part of our lives these days. There are various notions prevalent about whether one should use social media, and if at all it is to be used,... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more