• Former PhD Student Dies in JNU, Administration Clueless About His Death

    This is the second death of a Dalit student on the campus in six months.


    August 23, 2017

    Ghanshyam Das

    Ghanshyam Das, a former Research Scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, died on campus on Sunday, August 20. He was pursuing his PhD from the Philosophy Department of the University. Das, a Dalit student, was also an UPSC aspirant.

    He had become mentally unstable shortly after he couldn’t complete his course. Initially, the researcher stayed at the Students’ Activity Centre. But after some days it was discovered that he had built his own little tent in the campus premises, near the 24/7 Dhaba eatery.

    Sreelakshmi, a PhD student from the university recalled her interactions with the researcher and said that she first noticed Das staying at the “Hut” near 24/7 Dabha in March 2015. She stated that Das used to seek the help of students to pay for his food. “A month back when a friend and I went to eat at the Dhabha, Ghanshyam asked for some money. We gave it to him and he made us write our names and sign in the Diary he kept,” she said.

    Prameet Kajal a student from the School of International Studies on his FB post reacts to Das’s Death:


    Image courtesy: Newsclick

    Another student, Kundan Kumar wrote about his interaction with Das on 3 April 2016:


    The officials were clueless about the incident. No one seemed to take the responsibility for the incident and instead passed the buck to the other departments. Newsclick contacted Prof. Umesh Kadam, the Dean of Students, who is responsible for “the general welfare of Students”, and according to him, the news of Das’s death wasn’t of any concern to his office. It was the Registrars' responsibility to keep track these incidents. When contacted, the office of the Registrar informed, that he was on official tour abroad. The Public Relations Officer of the University was also contacted by phone, and she too had no idea about the incident. Instead, she asked the reporter to contact the security office. The security officer, on the clause of anonymity, said the police was investigating the case.

    Mohit K Pandey, President of the Students Union, said that the university was not at all sensitive to the needs of the students, especially the ones who needed institutional help to look after their mental health. Recalling an incident with the Rector, Chintamani Mahapatra, Pandey said: “The university wanted to throw out Ghanshyam Das from the University campus instead of looking for medical help for the former Research Scholar”.

    Except for a few students, no one from the university was present at the hospital when the post-mortem was being conducted. Pandey said that the post-mortem report concluded that Ghanshyam died from “Lung Infection”. This is the second death of a Dalit student in the university in a span of six months. Mutthukrishnan, an MPhil student had committed suicide in March this year.

    First published in Newsclick

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