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Staffer found dead in IIT Madras; suicide suspected

Unnikrishnan was recruited by IIT Madras this April after finishing his M.Tech degree

Indian Institute of Technology - Madras Indian Institute of Technology - Madras

The body of a project associate working at IIT Madras was found at the institution's campus on Thursday evening.

Preliminary investigation, based on circumstantial evidence, suggested Unnikrishnan Nair, a native of Kerala, could have ended his life by suicide.

Onmanorama reported his body was found in a partially burnt state. Police found a suicide note from one of his books in his room. Apparently, in the suicide note he said he was frustrated with life and work. "No one is responsible for my death," Unnikrishnan wrote in the note, reported Onmanorama.

Unnikrishnan was recruited by IIT Madras this April after finishing his M.Tech degree and had recently returned to the campus after a visit to Kerala.

Police are awaiting the postmortem results to decide on their course of investigation. Unnikrishnan's family was informed of his death.

The discovery of the body a day after news of a faculty member resigning alleging caste discrimination, has raised several questions on discrimination in the IIT Madras campus.

Assistant professor Vipin P. Veetil of the department of humanities and social sciences had alleged he had encountered "multiple specific instances of discrimination". An email of Veetil announcing his resignation was leaked to mediapersons on Thursday.

Following the resignation of Veetil, Chinta Bar, a collective of students of IIT Madras, reiterated its demand for "setting up of functioning SC, ST and OBC cells in the institute and for expanding the scope of the grievance redressal mechanism established at department level to address issues of discrimination, harassment etc."

In 2019, protests erupted at the IIT Madras campus after a student, Fathima Latheef, committed suicide. Her family had alleged religious discrimination she faced on campus was one of the reasons for her choosing to end her life.

(With inputs from Lakshmi Subramanian)

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