3rd death unravelled at IIT Kanpur



Dated: 22nd September, 2007

More skeletons are falling from the cupboard of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. The prestigious and world renowned Institute seems to have a practice of suppressing information about untimely deaths of daily wage workers on the campus.

Following the revelation of deaths of 12 years old Rohit by snake/scorpion bite followed by refusal by IIT Medical Centre to treat him on the pretext that he was not an employee’s son and 24 years old Udayvir Yadav by electric shock from his own welding machine on 26th and 30th August, 2007, respectively, information about whom IIT administration first tried to suppress, there were murmurs of a third death.

Now it is confirmed that Mohammad Rustam, resident of Malda, W. Bengal, aged between 50-55 years, died around 26th July, 2007, due to snake/scorpion bite in the early hours like Rohit. He is survived by 3 sons and 3 daughters. He used to work at the Core Lab construction site near Wind Tunnel and SIDBI Centre on campus. His dead body was shipped out silently of the campus in a tractor trolley and buried in a graveyard near a Mosque in Naramau. The Mukhiya of his village was summoned and the matter was settled.

The nexus of IIT administration and contractors first tried to summarily dispose of these case so that neither are liable for the deaths. In spite of the best efforts by IIT Director to strangle right to expression by placing a ban on anybody from IIT officially approaching the media, the news about three deaths leaked out.

Some IIT professors also feel indignant that the stories of deaths have been revealed to the outside world. They are not so much concerned about the families of the dead or the poor working conditions of the workers who have made it possible for them to enjoy world class material facilities on the campus. The insensitive and cold attitude of IIT community to the deaths of daily wage workers and shoddy manner in which they are dealt must by strongly condemned.

It shows IIT in very poor light so far its respect for human rights record is concerned. The guilty at the Medical Centre, at least in the case of Rohit’s death, must be punished and dependents of deceased must be immediately compensated. The IIT administration must put in place a transparent and verifiable system for ensuring due rights of the daily wage workers under the law of the land. Health care for families of workers, education for their children and good quality housing (to prevent incidents like snake/scorpion bites) is the minimum basic responsibility of IIT if it is to live up to its reputation of a world class institution.

Sandeep Pandey
National Convenor
National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM)