15 November, 2019; Students of Department of Mathematics, Jamia Millia Islamia held a candle light vigil in remembrance of mathematician Vashishtha Narayan Singh, who passed away this Thursday in Patna, Bihar.
Known as the mathematician who challenged Einstien’s theory, Mr Singh, a resident of Basantpur in Bhojpur district, was shifted to PMCH Patna, last month with prolonged illness. However, he was discharged. On Thursday, he was brought to the hospital after his condition worsened. Doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Known for giving Vector Cyclic Theory, Mr Singh joined the Washington University as an associate professor after completing his PhD. He later worked at NASA and then returned to India in 1974 to teach at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. After eight months, he joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bombay. In 1973, he was appointed as a faculty at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. He faced many difficulties during his life due to his mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In 1987, he returned to his village Basantpur. He was lost during his train journey to Pune in 1989 and was found four years later in 1993 in Doriganj, near Chhapra of Saran district. In 2014, he was appointed as a visiting professor at the Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University (BNMU) in Madhepura.
His death has triggered a row on social media as his family members were forced to wait for an ambulance outside Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), with his body on a stretcher. Students were disheartened by this treatment of such a prominent mathematician and they marched silently in grief with candles in their hand from the Central Canteen to Gate No.-7.
The silence of this march was observed parallel to another march organised by AISA JMI demanding justice for Fatima Latheef. Latheef , a 19 year old first- year student from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, allegedly committed suicide at her hostel last Saturday.
Holding posters saying: Justice for Fatima, they marched from Central Canteen to Gate No.-7 of the university. A native of Kerela, Lateef was pursuing her first year master’s in development studies integrated at IIT-M. While police said that no suicide note was recovered from her room, a note in her mobile had mentioned some faculty names as the cause of her death. Abdul Latheef, the father of the deceased, alleged that Fatima was being harassed because she was a Muslim.
DMK President M.K. Stallin expressed shock and grief over the suicide. ‘It is extremely shocking that Fatima had committed suicide due to discrimination. Allegations of Fatima’s mother has cast a cloud on the secular credentials of Tamil Nadu. This is a worrying trend. This is a shame,” the DMK leader said in a statement while adding that it is time we avoid saffronisation of educational institution.
In the protest led by All India Students Association (AISA), students raised slogans calling for the arrest of the professors named in the note. With candles in their hands, the students raised slogans such as, ‘Islamaphobia nahi chalega’, (Islamophobia won’t be accepted) and ‘Minority pe hamla nahi sahenge’, (attacks on minorities won’t be tolerated.) Fatima’s alleged suicide brought back memories of Rohit Vemula and Muthukrishnan. Students who were part of the march said ‘it is shameful that such things are happening in the institutes all around India. We have seen how in the name of identity, and for being a Dalit, PhD scholar Rohit Vemula from Hyderabad Central University was forced to commit suicide. These are not suicides, these are institutional murders and this won’t be accepted.’ They demanded that swift actions be taken against the culprits.
MD SAEMUL HAQUE NOORI, BA (HONS) ENGLISH, JAMIA MILLIA ISLAMIA