Mumbai Dharna for Darshan Solanki makes calls for law against caste discrimination

From conspicuous postmortem to claims of caste discrimination, Darshan’s family, present at the protest, demand answers from the IIT-B authorities


On March 4, a protest was organised against the institutional murder of Darshan Solanki, a 19-year-old Dalit student studying at IIT Bombay, who had died by jumping from the 7th floor of a hostel. Former Rajya Sabha MP and educationist Bhalchandra Mungekar had called for the said protest at Azad Maidan on Saturday. Darshan’s family, including father, mother, sister and other 25 relatives, had come to Mumbai, and were joined by various organisations, students and activists at the protest. The Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle from IIT Bombay was also present at the protest.

The family of the deceased have been alleging that Darshan faced caste-based discrimination at IIT Bombay, which pushed him to take the extreme step. MP Bhalchandra Mungekar said that conflicting claims have been made about the 18-year-old student’s postmortem examination, strengthening the suspicions raised by his family. Thus, the protest was organised to seek formulation of a bill be brought in the state legislature or an ordinance be issued to prevent alleged caste-based discrimination in institutes of higher studies.

At the protest, Darshan’s father Rameshbhai Solanki demanded an answer from the IIT-B administration and said, “On February 12, at exactly 12.30 pm, I got a call from Darshan. He was very happy. The exam went well. He was planning to call all his relatives on February 14. And around 1 am, Darshan died. At 2.30 pm, I received a call from the institute informing me about his accident. No one is giving me an answer as to what exactly happened in these 30 minutes. Will anyone answer me?”, as was reported by the Indian Express.

Darshan’s father then highlighted the way in which the postmortem of Darshan was conducted, “We could not see Darshan the day he died because we were told that the mortuary was closed. The postmortem was going to be conducted post our approval. But when we reached the hospital, it was already over. We were told not to touch the body. If my son has fallen from as high as the seventh floor, why did he have only one injury on the head?”

Remembering his son, a teary-eyed Rameshbhai then said, “Darshan was brilliant from a young age. Living on daily wages, we didn’t even know what IIT was. But he found out about it on the internet and he was determined to get into it. He could not clear in his first attempt, so he dropped a year. He fulfilled his dream of taking the entrance exam again. But we didn’t think his dream would take such a turn,” as was reported by media reports.

Janhvi Solanki, Darshan’s sister, shared that sometime before dying, Darshan had told her that the other students were not helping him. “Darshan told me that there was caste discrimination in IIT, but we didn’t pay much attention to it,” she added, as was published by the Indian Express.


Rameshbhai then demanded that the incident be investigated by a scheduled caste officer rather than the Powai Police Station’s current officers. “Despite the fact that the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments are cooperating with us, we have not received even a single courtesy call from the IIT administration,” his father claimed.

During the agitation, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mumbai, Bhalchandra Mungekar, addressed the need to formulate a new legislation to deal with the existing culture of caste bias in colleges and educational institutes, in order to prevent such cases of institutional murder from happening again. Darshan Solanki’s suicide at IIT Bombay has raised concerns about the mistreatment and bias faced by the SC/ST students as well as the efficiency of the IIT management. He stated that “All organisations have come together to demand the implementation of the Prevention of Caste-Based Discrimination Bill in all higher educational institutions of Maharashtra, including IIT-B, to set up an effective mechanism to destroy cattiness mentality in higher educational institutions, to effectively implement the anti-ragging law, to destroy religious discrimination,” as was reported by the Hindustan Times.

Meanwhile, considering the seriousness of the case, a Crime Branch SIT has been formed for investigating this case, NDTV reported. Mungekar said, “Due to our demand, on the direction of the Union Government, the Maharashtra government has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the alleged suicide. We have met the SIT members and explained our views.”

Mungekar further said that he himself, along with former MP Husain Dalwai, and one of the organisers, Ramesh Kamble, had met with members of the SIT in this case and explained their positions, suspicions and demands.

Parents of Aniket Ambhore, an IIT Bombay BTech student who died by suicide in 2014, had also joined the protest. Aniket’s father, Sanjay Ambhore, addressed the crowd, saying, “I know the IIT Bombay internal committee report will only state that Darshan was unable to cope with the pressures of studies. The administration will never accept that caste discrimination exists on campus.”

Darshan solanki’s suicide has called to attention the need for developing and implementing such a mechanism that paves the way towards ending caste-based “discriminatory mentality”, and the culture of otherization against Dalits.



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