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No scholarship, laptop and lockdown poverty, DU student dies by suicide at Telangana home

The 19-year old , Aishwarya Reddy, second-year student of B.Sc. (Hons) Mathematics at Delhi University’s prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women died by suicide on November 2 at her home in Telangana.

SNS | New Delhi |

A 19-year-old girl had asked for a laptop, even a second-hand one, to continue her online college classes during the coronavirus pandemic, which her family could not afford. The 19-year-old student unable to continue her studies died by suicide at her home in Telangana as she felt she was a ‘burden to her family.’

The 19-year old, Aishwarya Reddy, second-year student of B.Sc. (Hons) Mathematics at Delhi University’s prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women died by suicide on November 2 at her home in Telangana.

The daughter of a motorcycle mechanic, Aishwarya scored 98.5 per cent in Class 12 and was the eldest daughter of the family. The second-year student had returned to her home as schools and colleges were being closed down due to coronavirus pandemic.

In October, she had asked her father for a laptop as it was getting harder for her to continue her studies on her mobile phone. Her father, G Srinivas Reddy asked her to wait for a few days though she never asked for it again after that.

The suicide note recovered said, “Because of me my family has many expenses, I am a burden to them. My education is a burden. If I can’t study, I can’t live…Please try and ensure that the INSPIRE scholarship is at least given for a year.”

Aishwarya Reddy, was yet to receive her scholarship of ₹ 1.2 lakh, which was to be received in March but got delayed her family said. The INSPIRE scholarship is granted by the centre’s Department of Science and Technology.

The family had mortgaged their one-bedroom home for her college admission.Aishwarya’s younger sister had dropped out of school so that she could continue her education.

The college student’s union, Students Federation of India(SFI) had conducted a survey in September of which Aishwarya was also a part, which was on the digital divide in online learning. The survey showed that 27.5 per cent said they did not have access to a laptop and 39.4 per cent said that they did not have good internet connection. Reddy was one of the students who said that online classes had affected their mental and physical health.

The SFI in a statement said, “The delay in scholarship points to the apathy of the central government towards hardworking students from such backgrounds. SFI has petitioned the government of India several times to release pending scholarships and fellowships of students.”

Another contributing reason for her death was the sudden decision by the LSR administration to cancel the hostel for all students and to only give it to first year students only. Aishwarya was worried her family would not be able to afford private accommodation, requiring her to drop out. Hostel warden said that students had expressed their difficulties with vacating the hostel but Aishwarya was not one of them.

A close friend of 19-year-old said that she was not the one to challenge rules. She said that was difficult for many from the ‘poorer backgrounds living in far-away places’.