TISS students Make demand after professor named in management student’s suicide note

A day after a 24-year-old management student from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) took his life at his Powai residence, the students’ union at the institute has demanded the suspension of professor P. Vijay Kumar, who was named in the deceased’s suicide note.

A similar demand was made after the professor was accused of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement in October.

Sanket Tambe (24), a student of TISS’s Organization, Development, Change and Leadership course, ended his life on Monday at the 14-storeyed Powai Cosmopolitan building in Rambaug. The incident took place at 3 a.m. and a security guard found the body of Tambe, the Powai police said.

“After the accusations surfaced in October, we had demanded that the professor be suspended immediately. However, the response by the authorities was not formally communicated to us. We now learn that he went on indefinite leave. We will exert the demand for his suspension on Friday and submit the same in writing,” Jit Hazarika, students’ union leader, TISS, said. A candle-light march and vigil is also being planned, he said.

Meanwhile, the Powai police said on Thursday that they will soon call the professor for interrogation. “Tambe had studied Engineering and Law before this course. Our inquiry indicates that he was frustrated and depressed. He mentioned he was ‘suffering’ and ‘going through hell’ in his suicide note and that the professor had called him a ‘jobless graduate in the market’. We have booked him for abetment to suicide under the Indian Penal Code,” senior police inspector Anil Pophale, Powai Police Station, said.

One of Tambe’s long-time friends from his locality said that he had been depressed for months. “He had told me several times how he was fed up of a particular professor. He never mentioned his name earlier, but when the #MeToo incident was reported, he was told me that it was the same person. I tried to cheer him up by saying that the man would learn his lesson. Around September, Tambe told me that the professor would threaten to not let him appear for exams and refuse to take his viva,” the friend said.

“[Tambe] met me three to four days back and he looked much better than before and then I could not meet him because of work,” he said.

A senior official at TISS said, “The deceased had taken temporary withdrawal after the first semester. We will extend full cooperation to the investigating authorities.”

The Hindu reported in October how an alumnus had lodged a formal complaint with the institution about harassment by Mr. Kumar.