NEW DELHI: The government and the opposition in Tamil Nadu, under pressure from the Tamils, have stepped in to claim 27 year old PhD student J. Muthukrishnan of Jawaharlal Nehru University in what is fast becoming a South vs North issue in the state. Kirsh as he is popularly known was found dead on Holi day in a Delhi apartment.

People in the young student’s native Tamil Nadu have taken to the social media to express their concern regarding the fate of Tamils living in India’s northern states.

Rajini Krish -- as he was popularly known -- was found dead in Munirka on Monday, with police ruling his death as a suicide. Although no suicide note was found, students and faculty members who knew Krish said he was hard working, friendly and happy. Krish had been working on the history of caste oppression in India, and is said to have been moved by the suicide of Hyderabad Central University dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, whom he knew as he was student at HCU before enrolling in JNU.

Krish’s suicide has once again turned the spotlight to the volatile environment in India’s campuses, with students and faculty members organising memorials and protests in New Delhi and elsewhere. In Tamil Nadu, however, the reaction to Krish’s suicide has an added element -- that of Tamil anger and frustration directed at the country’s north. “RSS trained Vice Chancellors don’t care about India’s South” and “fascist forces are being allowed to target Tamils and others” are the kind of statements circulating in Tamil on Facebook and Twitter.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced a solatium of Rs 3 lakh to Krish’s family. “I am deeply grieved by the death of J Muthukrishnan and I convey my condolences to his family,” Palaniswami said. “Considering the family circumstances of the deceased student, I have ordered a solatium of Rs 3 lakh to his family.”

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s various political parties expressed concern about the suicide. “There are strong doubts if he really committed suicide, considering he was strong.” “Therefore, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should take special interest and order for a proper probe and bring the facts to light. The culprits should not be spared at any cost,” AIADMK deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran said.

The AIADMK leader added that if Krish’s death was indeed suicide, then counseling classes need to be added for students in educational institutions so as to prevent such instances from occurring.

DMK working president and leader of the opposition too had strong words. “The Delhi police cannot brush aside the fact that Krishnan was one of those who had sought justice for Vemula, and his Facebook post on inequality also cannot be ignored,” Stalin said. “The Centre should order a fair probe into the matter,” he said, demanding that the matter be handed over to the CBI.

Krish did not leave a suicide note, but his last Facebook post has been widely circulated following his death. In it, he highlighted discriminatory admission practices, saying that “When equality is denied everything is denied.” “There is no equality in M Phil/PhD admissions, 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 Marginal’s,” he wrote.

As Krish’s death is being treated as a suicide by the Delhi police, in Tamil Nadu there is the added component of discrimination and harassment faced by Tamil students in India’s north. In 2015, when a Tirupur-based postgraduate medical student G. Saravanan was found dead at AIIMs, many in Tamil Nadu highlighted the need to ensure the safety of Tamils working and studying outside of the state.

“His father works in a clothing factory in Tirupur and Saravanan had succeeded in getting a postgraduate seat in AIIMS amidst tough competition. To say that he would throw it all away two weeks after joining a new course is shocking,” CPI (M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan said at the time, while MK Stalin formally urged the State government to ensure the safety of Tamil Nadu students studying in other states.

Kirsh himself was a big Rajnikanth (movie actor) fan as the following video he posted on his Facebook site shows.

His family is now in Delhi, devastated, and demanding a probe. “He [Muthukrishnan] took up many odd jobs to finance his education at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and was very keen to finish his M.Phil at JNU and then pursue a career in the civil services. My son had come to JNU to study. Not to die,” his father Jeevanandhaam said.

Speaking outside the AIIMS mortuary to reporters Krish’s father said that he was informed about his son’s death by friends of his son . And that the JNU administration had not even bothered to inform him.

The father has written to the Delhi Police saying that the death of his son has taken place under “suspicious circumstances”.

Significantly the JNU Vice Chancellor has not found the time to visit AIIMS to pay his condolences to a student who died in tragic circumstances.