Dr Jaspreet Singh: The Death of Merit – Another Documentary
This documentary is second in the series of our efforts to document caste-based discrimination prevalent in Indian higher education system resulting in large number of suicides of Dalit students in Indian campuses.
It is based on the testimonies of parents and family members of Dr Jaspreet Singh, 22 years, who was a student of Final Year, MBBS at Government Medical College, Chandigarh. He committed suicide on 27th January, 2008, by hanging himself on the 5th floor of his college’s library.
In next few days, we are coming up with few more documentaries to expose the kind of caste-based hostility and harassment Dalit and Adivasi students have to suffer from the faculties, fellow students and administration in some of the country’s premier educational institutions. These documentaries are part of our efforts to make Indian educational system inclusive in real sense and free from caste-discrimination.
About the Documentary
He used to clear all his papers without fail, in 4 years of his MBBS, till he met a professor whose criteria of merit was not Jaspreet’s performance but his ‘caste’.
After completing his MBBS from Government Medical College, Chandigarh, Dr Jaspreet wanted to become a surgeon. However his dreams were cut short by a professor who not only humiliated him on caste lines but failed him twice in the same paper and threatened to further keep failing him.
‘Do whatever you can do, I will make you to do your MBBS all over again‘ was the taunt Prof N.K. Goel, Head of Department, Community Medcine used to make to a final year student who, in his 4 years of MBBS, had cleared each and every paper without fail.
Tensed and much humiliated Jaspreet informed many other faculty members and friends about the casteist behaviour of Prof Goel and his fear of being failed once again but to no avail.
He was once again failed in the same paper by just one mark.
Finally he committed suicide in the college’s library leaving behind a suicide note mentioning the name of the professor and his casteist behaviour.
The college administration tried its best to pass this suicide off as one more case of ‘depressed’ Dalit student who could not ‘cope up’ with ‘rigrous academic pressure’.
The police, though, lodged an FIR but refused to act or apply SC/ST Atrocity (Prevention) Act despite the suicide note clearly mentioning about the caste-based harassment.
Only after the intervention of National Scheduled Caste Commission, police filed the case under this act and the answer sheet of Dr Jaspreet Singh were sent to a panel of 3 external examiners for re-evalutaion.
And Dr Jaspreet passed the exam, but after his death.
An internal enquiry committee was set up by the college and that too also clearly pointed towards the casteist behaviour of Prof Goel that led Jaspreet to commit suicide.
However, despite all this including the suicide note, Prof Goel is still working as Head of Department, Community Medicine and has not been suspended even for a day and no discpilinary action what so ever has been taken till now, even after three years of Dr. Jaspreet’s death.
The tragedy with Jaspreet’s family did not end with his suicide.
Next year, in 2009, Jaspreet’s younger sister Harpreet Kaur, 20 years of age, also committed suicide on the day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ after tying rakhi on the photograph of her brother. She was doing her Bachelors in Computer Applications (BCA) and went into severe depression after the death of her much beloved and only brother.
Two brilliant lives from the same family were snuffed out at one go by a casteist professor.
Three years after, his parents and two sisters are still fighting the case and waiting for justice, not only for their son, but like Dr Balmukund Bharti’s parents, for all other Dalit students so that they do not suffer the fate of Jaspreet.
- For the list of Dalit students committing suicide in last four years in India’s premier educational institutions, please click here.
- To read the report Caste Discrimination in IIT Delhi, please click here.
- To read the article ‘On Suicide, Caste and Higher Education, please click here.
- Watch our first documentary ‘The Death of Merit’ on the suicide of Dr. Balmukund Bharti (AIIMS, New Delhi) below.