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PhD student’s death sparks protests

The death of a PhD student at the National Institute of Immunology,which police are treating as an unnatural death,on Monday led to protests and demands for an independent inquiry into the case.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi |
April 19, 2011 1:35:37 am

The death of a PhD student at the National Institute of Immunology (NII),which police are treating as an unnatural death,on Monday led to protests and demands for an independent inquiry into the case.

Linesh Mohan Gawli,a 27-year-old Dalit from Dindori in Jabalpur,was found dead on Sunday. It is suspected that he took his own life by consuming poison.

“His room was locked from inside. As of now,it is a case of unnatural death. He had taken poison. We have sent the viscera for a chemical analysis to find out the exact cause of death. The report is awaited,” said Vijay Singh,Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South).

A group of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Mass Communication protested outside the NII on Monday. They demanded an independent inquiry into the death of Gawli.

The students claimed this was the third such incident in as many years.

“In February 2010,a PhD candidate committed suicide. Another student had done it earlier. We suspect work pressure forced these students to take the extreme step,” said Sandeep Singh,president of the All India Students’ Association.

“Students sign in at the labs at 8 in the morning and put in a minimum of 10 hours each day. In extreme cases,they stay on till 4 in the morning and return in four hours,” said one student.

Administrators of NII were not available for comment.

Four representatives from among the protesting students who were allowed to meet NII authorities claimed their demand for an independent inquiry had been rejected.

The NII is a close-knit community of about 50 professors and 400 research scholars.

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