A Dalit PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University has threatened to commit suicide if his research grant is not extended for a year within a week. The threat was made in a letter he sent to JNU vice-chancellor on Monday, wherein he also alleged "discrimination and harassment" by a certain department, according to reports.
Madan Meher, a researcher with the International Organisation (ORG) Division at JNU's Centre for International Politics Organisation and Disarmament (CIPOD), alleged that his centre refused to grant him an extension of one year and four months to complete his PhD, even though he submitted necessary chapters.
A one-year extension is granted to PhD scholars if they have completed only 90% of their work in the four-year period.
"If you will not provide my remaining SRF of one year within one week, then I will make suicide in front of administrative bloc, JNU, New Delhi. For this death, you and JNU will be responsible (sic)," Hindustan Times cited Meher's letter to the vice-chancellor, SK Sopory.
Meher alleged that CIPOD "blocked" his PhD and said, citing an RTI reply, that no Dalit scholar from his department has ever received his/her PhD. "ORG/CIPOD deliberately blocked my 9(b), because they know that if they block my PhD 9(b) for more than one year then I will not get scholarship, and through which I will not survive in JNU, and finally I will not be able to complete my PhD (sic)," the letter read.
The office of the Controller of Examination said Meher's grant has not been approved because he has not cleared his finances with the university. He was reportedly granted Rs 66,000 for his field trip to Brussels in Belgium in 2013, but he didn't go.
"The student was allotted money for a field trip to Brussels but he did not go for that. Later for around a year and a half he de-registered from his PhD. He re-registered only last year in July. His SRF from July can be released once he settles the previous balance. He needs to get clearance from his supervisor," JNU controller of examination Hanuman Sharma said.
However in a second letter written to the VC, Meher said that he was not in the university for a certain period as he had gone home to look after his ailing father, brother and two other family members. He asked the university to grant him his fellowship as he has returned to complete his PhD, PTI reported.
"I am from a very poor family and I had to use the field trip allocation for a family emergency. I thought I would pay it back using my SRF but first I was denied extension and then my SRF is not being released," HT quoted Meher as saying.
Meanwhile, VC Sopory has asked the concerned department to look into Meher's claims, while issuing orders to keep an eye on him. "I have asked the departments concerned to look into this issue and it will be resolved within a day or two," Sopory said.
The threat from the Dalit student came days after another Dalit student allegedly committed suicide at Hyderabad University. Vemula Rohit, a 26-year-old Dalit PhD scholar, allegedly hanged himself in a hostel room of the university on 17 January.