Provide quality mental health to ST students, Commission directs IIT-B
The Commission has asked to file FIR against Hima Anaredy of the Student Welfare Centre for her alleged casteist social media post.
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has written to the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) directing the institute to act on the lack of mental health support for the ST students on campus. It has also asked the institute to file a First Information Report (FIR) against Hima Anaredy, head counsellor at the Student Welfare Centre, for her alleged casteist social media post and remarks.
As per the student members of Ambedkar Phule Periyar Study Circle (APPSC), they had brought the said social media post upon discovering, wherein Anaredy was making casteist remarks against reservation.
“We then sent the screenshots to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). The NCSC questioned the institute about the same,” a member of APPSC had earlier said on condition of anonymity.
Institutional caste discrimination on the campus of IIT-B has been making headlines since the death of a first-year B.Tech student Darshan Solanki by suicide last month. While the institute has time and again denied the existence of caste-based discrimination on campus, students have alleged that such instances occur more often than one might think.
Based on our complaint, the honourable @ncsthq has directed @iitbombay to action against lack of mental health support for ST students, sensitize campus about discrimination, and have more representation of STs in students, faculty and counsellors. pic.twitter.com/K9sEnvIZUg— APPSC IIT Bombay (@AppscIITb) March 24, 2023
The APPSC had also demanded the recruitment of caste-based counsellors who are trained to handle caste-based issues, the recruitment of professional counsellors with SC/ST/OBC backgrounds. While the Commission had issued a notice to the Director, IIT Bombay seeking a response, it said that it found the reply by the institute “highly unsatisfactory”. Following this, the Commission issued a summons to the Director to appear for a hearing on February 22, 2023.
In its initial reply to the Commission, the Institute administration had stated that there were several measures on campus taken to help all students and that the SC/ST Cell had planned caste-based sensitisation on campus as well. As far as Anaredy was concerned, The Administration said that it had asked her to take the casteist post down and warned against the posts in future. She had been working with the SC/ST cell since April 2022 on a joint survey.
During the course of the investigation, the Commission had grilled the Institute about letting Anaredy continue to work with the cell despite showing “casteist sentiment”.
In its latest letter, the Commission stated that it found the reply submitted by the institute incorrect during the course of the sitting.
The Commission has made recommendations to the Institute, in which it asks the director to register an FIR against Anaredy under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. It has also recommended the recruitment of expert counsellors, faculty counsellors and convenors with ST background. It has also asked the institute to conduct caste sensitisation and provide a detailed investigation report of the suicide case of Darshan Solanki.
The institute has been asked to implement these and submit an Action Taken Report (ATR) within 15 days.