Justice for Fathima Latheef: Two years on...The journey of the suicide case of an IITian and where it stands now!

It's been two years since Fathima Latheef, a student of the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (IIT-M), has committed suicide at the premises. The case has taken several turns and the snarling pace of the probe has now got paced up with the investigating team again summoned and investigated the student's father, Abdul Latheef on Tuesday - December 7. Her father had arrived in Chennai on Monday and he will most likely be meeting Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday. 

19-year-old Fathima Latheef was a native of the Kollam district in Kerala and she was studying her first-year course in Humanities. She was staying at the Sarayu Hostel of the Institute. In November 2019, she had committed suicide in her room and while initially it was presumed that she had ended her life due to scoring low marks, her suicide note, which was retrieved from her mobile phone, had revealed that she had faced harassment and religious discrimination from the professors.

The shocking development that happened within the walls of one of the nation's prestigious institutions had drawn nationwide attention and stirred agitation across and beyond Chennai. The students of the IIT and various student bodies had held protests against the institution and demanded to take action against the professors. However, though the management has assured to cooperate for the investigation, the culprits are yet to be arrested. 

Initially, the Kottupuram police in Chennai were investigating the case and her father Abdul Latheef had met the then Chennai Police Commissioner and petitioned that the death of his daughter didn't appear to be a suicide and there were several suspicions around her death. He demanded justice for her daughter and Abdul Latheef had also met the then Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and urged him to take swift action on the culprits. 

However, when the Chennai Crime Branch had concluded that there was no evidence that the professors had harassed her, Fathima's father had demanded that her death should be probed by the CBI. In December 2019, Abdul Latheef had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and appealed to him to conduct a CBI enquiry into the matter. He had met Amit Shah along with his wife Sajitha and the delegation of MPs from Kerala. While addressing the reporters, Abdul Latheef said the Amit Shah had assured that the investigation would be conducted by a woman CBI officer of the Inspector General rank. 

Days after the meet, the case was transferred to the CBI and the Tamil Nadu Police's Crime Branch had handed over the case details to the Central agency. On the other hand, protests with a call Justice for Fathima Latheef were rampant and the protesters had blamed IIT management and said that the premises hold more mysteries. The CBI team had held investigations with Fathima Latheef's family and friends and the probe had revealed the details of a professor who was involved in Fathima's suicide. 

However, the call for Justice for Fathima Latheef faced a blow as the CBI probe didn't fuel the pace of the probe for the past two years. The case was kept behind the screen and after nearly two years, the reports say that the CBI has begun the proceeding and the central agency had summoned Abdul Latheef to Chennai for further investigations. As per the summon, he had arrived in Chennai on Monday night. 

He appeared before the CBI team in its office in Besant Nagar, Chennai in the morning hours of Tuesday - December 7 and it has been reported that Abdul Latheef was investigated by the CBI based on the latest information and updated him about them. The questioning had lasted several hours and after that,  he said he will meet Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin and will demand him to speak with the Prime Minister's Office to expedite the probe. 

Fathima's father Abdul Latheef addressing the reporters in Chennai after a CBI enquiry - Dec 7, 2021


After the questioning, Abdul Latheef said, "We want the culprits behind my daughter's death to be arrested soon." He also said that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had had a word with Stalin regarding the same. It has been reported that Abdul Latheef will most likely meet MK Stalin on Wednesday during which he will express his displeasure over the lack of progress in the investigation. Upon landing in Chennai on Monday, he said, "We will let the Chief Minister know of the grievances and ask him to speak with the Prime Minister's Office." 

It must be noted that soon after Fathima Latheef's death, Abdul Latheef has alleged in Chennai that he had evidence to prove that Fathima was being harassed by some professors in her department. During that time, Abdul Latheef had also met MK Stalin, who was the then Opposition Leader, and Stalin has condemned the incident. Last month, the Latheef family marked the second year death anniversary of Fathima Latheef with having no sight of justice. As the case has currently been paced up again, Fathima's family, friends, relatives, and fellow students await where it will lead to and whether the culprits will be nabbed at this second edition of the investigation.