New Delhi: Students from various universities in Delhi staged protests in the National Capital, demanding an institutional enquiry into the death of an LSR college student, who allegedly died by suicide last week following concerns over pursuing education in view of her family’s poor financial condition.

However, the principal of Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College for Women told the students’ union of the institution that the demands raised by it following the death of the student are being looked into.

While the All India Students’ Association (AISA) staged a protest outside the UGC headquarters, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Krantikari Yuva Sangathan staged a protest outside the LSR college premises.

“Negligence in the disbursement of scholarships, ignorance on the part of the administration and the unjust system of online education have claimed many lives in different ways amidst the pandemic, tampering the future of thousands of students like Aishwarya,” one of the protesting students outside the UGC office said.

Aishwarya, a student of LSR and an IAS aspirant, was found hanging at her Shadnagar house in Telangana’s Ranga Reddy district on 2 November. In a suicide note purportedly written by her, the 19-year-old said she did not want to burden her parents with her educational expenses, according to police officials.

The second-year BSc Mathematics (Honours) student had returned to Telangana from Delhi in March, after those staying in the hostel were asked to go home by the college authorities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The digital divide, owing to the class-caste-gender divide in the society is widening and resulting in inequalities that will reflect way after the pandemic is gone. We demand the setting up of an independent inquiry into the institutional murder of the LSR student.

“We want the disbursement of all pending scholarships, including JRF and SRF, and a strategic re-opening of college campuses, hostels and other university facilities,” a charter of demands submitted by the protesting students said.

“The provision of internet be made for those in need and the government must take the responsibility of the bills. Students amidst the pandemic have been one of the worst-hit communities. From a lack of resources to a lack of resilience on the part of the government, the education of India’s poorest has suffered terribly,” it added.

Meanwhile, LSR principal Suman Sharma told the students’ union of the college in an email: “We are looking into how disbursement of scholarships can be made swifter. The help to needy students with laptops and internet packs in view of the closure of educational institutions due to COVID-19 is being actively considered. The clause in college norms asking students not to agitate will also be removed.”

A collection of Suicide prevention helpline numbers are available here. Please reach out if you or anyone you know is in need of support. The All-India helpline number is: 022 2754 6669

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