The probe into the death of 18-year-old Darshan Solanki took a dramatic turn on Monday, with the special investigation team (SIT) claiming to have found a suicide note “right under his study table.” The note reportedly had just four words: “Arman has killed me.” Arman Iqbal Khatri is Darshan’s wing mate. Darshan resided in Room 802 of Hostel 16, while the accused lives in Room 808.
The IIT Bombay student, allegedly jumped off the eighth floor of his hostel building on February 12. In the days after his death, the police claimed that no suicide note was recovered.
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His family and some students had alleged that Solanki, a Bachelor of Technology student from Ahmedabad, was driven to suicide due to discrimination against Scheduled Castes students on campus.
Shedding light into the investigation, a SIT officer added: “After we took over the case on February 27, we conducted a detailed search of Darshan’s hostel room. We found the note on March 3, right under Solanki’s study table.”
Significantly, Powai police did not recover any note during the initial probe. The note has been sent to a handwriting expert, but Darshan’s mother has confirmed the same.
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“After recording statements of 11 of the 12 students residing in the same hostel wing, which included Khatri, we informed the family about the note. We presented all the facts on March 16 and asked them to file a formal complaint and register an FIR,” said the officer.
He further added said while recording statements of students, it became clear that the roommates – Solanki and Khatri – “were having disputes before the incident occurred.” Almost a week before the unfortunate event, the duo had argued and had a fight, the officer added.
At present, an Accidental Death Report (ADR) has been registered. However, to continue the probe given the new finding, Darshan’s family will have to file an FIR in the case.
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The SIT, led by Joint Commissioner (Crime) Lakhmi Gautam was formed on February 27. The findings of the SIT are in sharp contrast to the interim report of the 12-member internal committee formed by IIT Bombay a day after Darshan’s death.
The report noted that “there is no specific evidence of direct caste-based discrimination faced by Darshan.” It also stated that the only person who mentioned caste-based discrimination faced by Darshan was his sister, and in that case too, there was no particular incident to mention, except “a few instances in which his queries related to computers and other subject matters were sometimes laughed at by some students.”
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Darshan’s father Ramesh Solanki, in a letter to the Director of IIT Bombay, dated March 24, had rejected the report calling it “not only false but (also) inhuman.”
Solanki jumped from the refuge area on the eighth floor of his hostel. During preliminary investigations, an officer from Powai PS had stated: “His parents have not made any specific allegations of harassment or discrimination against anyone. His father said that around two hours before his extreme step, Darshan had called to say that his exams had ended and he was going on a short trip with his friends, and that he would visit his family on February 15.”
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Following an order issued by the Maharashtra Home department, Powai Police handed over the probe to SIT on February 24.
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