In February, the death by suicide of Darshan Solanki, a Dalit student of IIT Bombay, reignited a debate about the treatment of students from marginalised communities in India’s educational institutions. In Solanki’s case, details are continuing to emerge about what led to his death. But the problem is a larger one – in December 2021, the education minister stated in parliament that 122 students in Central government higher educational institutions had died by suicide between 2014 and 2021, and that 68 of these students were from Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class communities.
In a two-part series, Scroll revisited two such cases from the past, to examine how institutions responded to the suicides and whether the campuses changed as a result. The first part comes from a large public university located in rural West Bengal.
Vidyasagar University is about 130 km west of Kolkata, a short ride from Midnapore city centre. Spread across 138 acres, it is a large campus with abundant green cover, much of it ornamental trees. The buildings are painted a tranquil sky blue and white.
I visited the university on April 4. As I entered from Gate 1, I encountered a signboard on…