Denying any speculation surrounding his mental health, the family members of Ayush Ashna, who died by suicide at the IIT Delhi campus on midnight of July 8, have demanded more scrutiny from Delhi Police regarding the case.
“Many media reports suggested that Ayush had mental health concerns, which is not true. He just celebrated his birthday on July 7 and we were continuously talking with him. Even if there was academic pressure, we would have seen the signs at least,” said Arun Ashna, uncle of Ayush.
The family is now awaiting a postmortem report, which they believe will be available to them in 3-4 days, and can ascertain some of their suspicions surrounding the case.
“IIT Delhi did not have an environment which he was not familiar with. Ayush also prepared for his JEE entrance, staying away from the family. His brother studied at IIT Delhi. The whole incident seems odd considering everything seemed fine days before his death,” said Mr Arun.
Who is Ayush Ashna?
Ayush, a student of Btech and Dual Degree in Mathematics and Computing, was staying in the Udaygiri hostel of the campus. He was only 20 years old at the time of passing and was originally a resident of Bareilly.
What happened to Ayush?
According to a report by PTI, the Delhi police arrived at the IIT Delhi hostel after receiving a call at the Kishangarh police station, which falls under the jurisdiction of southwest Delhi. The room, which was locked from the inside, was opened by the police officials in the presence of Ayush’s family who saw the student hanging from his ceiling.
Though there has been no conclusive evidence to suggest Ayush’s caste played a role in him taking the unfortunate step, students at IIT Delhi have alleged that it could have been a factor.
Student group slams IIT Delhi over suicide case
A statement issued by Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC) stated that IIT Delhi didn’t mention the student’s caste in the condolence email, which signalled to them ‘how unwelcoming the institute is for IIT Delhi students from Scheduled castes and tribes.’ The APPSC also organised a candlelight march on Thursday, July 13, in solidarity with Ayush.
In a separate mail sent out to the students dated July 13, seen by The Free Press Journal, IIT Delhi Director Rangan Banerjee acknowledged the fact that Ayush belongs to the SC community and expressed sorrow over the incident.
“The loss of a young member of our community pains us all immensely and this is intensified by the fact that Ayush belongs to the SC community. We commit ourselves to put in place stronger measures that can help prevent such losses in the future. We are open to suggestions and ideas from you to enhance our support systems,” The Director stated in the mail.
“Caste could have also played a role. We don’t know what happened since we don’t have all the details yet,” said Mr Arun.
What IIT Delhi said
A spokesperson from IIT Delhi refused to comment on the matter, when The FPJ reached out, adding that the case is being probed by the Delhi Police.
Suicide case months after similar incident at IIT Bombay
Ayush’s death is reminiscent of what happened to Darshan Solanki, a first-year Btech student at the IIT Powai campus, who jumped to death from the seventh floor of his hostel building on February 12, 2023.
Following his death, many organisations including Darshan’s parents alleged caste-based discrimination against the student at the institute. In a letter to the Special Investigation Team (SIT), Darshan’s father recalled several incidents wherein his son was discriminated against for being a Dalit.
Though the Mumbai Police arrested a student for allegedly threatening Darshan days before his death, his father Ramesh Solanki urged the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) to continue their inquiry over caste discrimination allegations at IIT Bombay.