NEW DELHI: A year after Rohith Vemula’s suicide, another research scholar’s death has once again turned the spotlight to the turmoil in India’s university campuses. Rajni Krish, an MPhil student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, was found dead in South Delhi’s Munirka area. Krish committed suicide, and although no suicide note has as yet been found, police were quick to attribute depression as the cause.

Students and faculty members who knew Krish, however, say that he was happy and hard working. Prior to joining JNU, Krish was a student at Hyderabad Central University and reportedly knew Rohith Vemula. His blog entries and Facebook posts suggest that he was deeply moved by Vemula’s suicide, with his research at JNU focusing on the realities of caste oppression.

In his last Facebook post, Krish provided a commentary on the current turmoil in JNU. “When equality is denied everything is denied. There is no Equality in M.phil/phd Admission, there is no equality in Viva – voce, there is only denial of equality, denying prof. Sukhadeo thorat recommendation, denying Students protest places in Ad – block, denying the education of the Marginals,” he wrote. JNU students and faculty members are currently protesting the UGC’s new rules that they say discriminate against students from marginalised backgrounds.

Krish is fondly remembered by JNU students and faculty members. Aishwarya Adhikari says that she met Krish shortly after he joined JNU for his MPhil last year. “He was a happy person; not the kind of person who would give up,” Aishwarya says. “He was very friendly, would laugh all the time… he had a lot of friends,” she adds. “When I heard, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it must be someone else… we were all in shock. All he would keep saying was that he would write a brilliant paper.” Aishwarya adds that it was a big deal for Krish to come to JNU. “He told us that he worked extra hard to come here; he saved up, did extra jobs. It was a big thing for him to come.” Krish reportedly knew Rohith Vemula, and Aishwarya says that he was disturbed by the events that transpired at HCU. This is corroborated by Krish’s blog entries and writings, where Vemula and the struggle for justice figures prominently.

A statement issued by the JNU Teacher’s Association paints a similar picture of Krish -- happy, hard working, well liked and politically aware. The statement reads: “The JNUTA expresses its grief at the tragic suicide of Muthukrishanan, an M.Phil. student of the Centre for Historical Studies. Muthukrishanan, by the accounts of his teachers and friends, was an intelligent student, committed about doing research that would foreground the historical reality and experience of caste oppression. His struggle to transform his life through education, battling through the barriers created by social, educational and economic disadvantage, is both a source of inspiration and the cause of deep regret, as such passion and dedication deserved the greatest of fulfilment and success. Instead what we have is the loss of a young life and a devastated circle of family and friends. JNUTA extends its sincerest condolences to the family, friends, and the JNU community. The university community is in a turmoil, as once again, the precarity of Dalit lives in university spaces have been underlined to us all. While our first thoughts must be to respecting the grief of Muthukrishanan's family, we also have to discuss as a community, the ways in which we have fallen short in truly supporting each other.”