The AIIMS mortuary Tuesday became the gathering place for friends, family and teachers of JNU student J Muthukrishan, who was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his friend’s house a day earlier. All of them had different stories to tell about Muthukrishan, who also went by Krish Rajini because of his love for Tamil superstar Rajinikanth. His father Jeevanandhaam, a labourer, said, “He was very brave; he could not have taken such a step. I suspect foul play.” Later in the day, Jeevanandhaam demanded a CBI probe. “I was told by my son’s friends he was facing constant caste-based harassment and discrimination in his academic pursuits from his centre and the JNU administration,” he wrote in the police complaint.
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“I request police authorities to conduct a thorough investigation in the suspicious death (not suicide) of my son, and to register an FIR under the appropriate sections of IPC and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act, 1989,” he wrote in the complaint.
A native of Salem in Tamil Nadu, Muthukrishan, who has a younger sister who’s about to be married, joined the University of Hyderabad (UoH) for his MA in History. He came from a humble background and did menial jobs to sustain his education. According to his Facebook profile, he had done B.Ed from Coimbatore. Getting into JNU was his “dream”, and it took him four attempts to crack it.
In a Facebook post on July 26 last year, he wrote, “This is my 4rth year visit to JNU… 2 Times I attend the interview. You know what. First two times I did not learnt English properly. But I tried because I just don’t want to give up..(sic)”. “And last interview, one madam told me I am speaking ‘simple language’ this year. Three professors told me that ‘You spoke Well’,” he wrote.
Incidentally, that also happened to be the first time he took a flight, courtesy his friends from UoH who collected money for him. In a Facebook post, he wrote, “The airhostess said, ‘What would you like to have sir?’ I looked at the price menu, all above Rs 100, even 120 ml tea. I asked her, ‘Is there anything you can offer me free of cost?’ She said, ‘Water I can give you sir’. I showed my water bottle…and said, ‘I have enough of water madam, thank you’.”
Muthukrishan’s friend Vikas Moola, who knew him since his UoH days, and Rahul Sonpimple from the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), had breakfast with Muthukrishan on Monday. “We had a casual chat. He was not depressed at all. He later went to have lunch at his friend’s place in Munirka,” he said. A professor in the Centre for Historical Studies, who knew Muthukrishan, said he was an “average student who worked hard”.
Moola said Muthukrishan was a “very timid and shy person”. “He would be social, but when he didn’t get a good response, he would start thinking something was wrong with him. In the last one week, he told me he was facing problems in his department. Some people would never acknowledge his presence,” he alleged.
Sonpimple said that although Muthukrishan identified as an Ambedkarite, he wasn’t affiliated to any organisation. “He would come for protests but mostly you could find him in the library,” he said.
Those who knew him said Muthukrishan could be seen cycling around the campus and was known for his infectious smile.