Mumbai: “He always lived in his present and didn’t care much about the past or what might happen in the future,” is how friends of Kedar Suresh Choughule, the second-year Btech student who allegedly took his own life inside an IIT Madras hostel room, defined the student.
A 20-year-old Kedar, who hailed from Maharashtra’s Kolhapur, took repeated attempts at the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) before he realised his dream of pursuing Engineering at one of India’s premier technical institutes.
Though his friends remembered him as a very competitive student, his death shook them.
Friends remember Kedar as being confident, funny
“Kedar was quite confident, really good in academics, and a very nice person to be a close friend with. He would always clarify doubts of other students regarding different questions,” stated a friend, who could have never imagined that someone like Kedar would take such a step.
Known for good humour in his friend circle, Kedar always tried his best to keep in touch with old friends from his college days.
“Even after going to Chennai, he kept our WhatsApp group lively. He used to post pics of us in college time and always said those were the best days,” added his friend.
Just days before he passed away, Kedar was also praised by his former lecturer for getting into IIT Madras on a common WhatsApp group.
Friends contradict reason for suicide by student
Though certain reports have suggested that a suicide note left by Kedar indicates he ended his life over a ‘romantic relation,’ his friends believe that the student was lonely and was worried about the competition at IIT Madras.
“I had an hour-long conversation with Kedar just two days before he passed away. He told me about the intense competition at the institute, while also mentioning the extracurricular activities students were involved in which made him stressed out,” said Vinayak, a friend of Kedar, who requested that only his first name be used.
IIT Madras's wellness sessions fall flat amid spate of suicides
Despite IIT Madras receiving praise for its flurry of startup initiatives this year, it has faced backlash over four incidents of alleged suicides in 2023 alone.
On February 13, Steven, a second-year research scholar from Maharashtra, was found dead in his hostel room, while another student named Vaipu Pushpak Sri Sai, a third-year Electrical Engineering candidate from Andhra Pradesh, was found dead on March 14.
The institute was hit by protests as students demanded a probe into PhD scholar Sachin Kumar Jain’s alleged suicide on March 31 at his house in Velachery. The students and Sachin’s brother have blamed the scholar’s PhD guide for ‘inhumane treatment’ which allegedly led to his death.
“Kedar told me such incidents are common which made it seem like these things are normalised in IITs though it never should be,” added Vinayak, who said that the college friends were planning to meet in May but Kedar didn’t endorse the idea.
“Kedar always rejoiced in the moments from classes 11th to 12th. We had a very close circle of friends but I felt he was missing out on this aspect in IIT Madras, as he frequently posted our images from college days on the group as if he was going through his gallery frequently,” said another friend.
The Kolhapur native’s death happened just days after IIT Madras started a wellness session series for its students on Wednesday, April 19, 2023.
The programme, which is being conducted with the support of the National Health Mission, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Tamil Nadu, came to fruition after reports of suicide forced the institute to find ways to mitigate issues with mental health and stress among its students.