“We stayed together. The main reason he died by suicide is because he was replaced…he used to say that ‘I have lost my job’ and was often stressed,” said a relative of Samarveer Singh, a 33-year-old ad-hoc lecturer who was found dead at his home in Delhi.
Singh, who was from Rajasthan’s Baran district, taught philosophy at the Hindu College for seven years. He was removed in February following interviews for permanent faculty positions across several DU colleges – around 460 ad-hoc teachers have been removed between September last year and April this year, according to sources.
His body was found at his home at Delhi’s Rani Bagh area on Thursday. A post-mortem was conducted at Babu Jagjivan Ram hospital and the police have not found any suicide note. “No FIR has been lodged,” said Ramji Lal, the investigating officer, adding that there is no foul play.
One of Singh’s former colleagues claimed he was struggling as life had taken a “turn”. “Things took a turn when he lost his only job and his ailing mother's health deteriorated rapidly, eventually resulting in her losing her eyesight.”
The Hindu College principal refused to speak to Newslaundry.
Several student bodies, including the left-wing student outfit SFI, held a protest and condolence meeting on the Hindu campus on Thursday, calling Singh’s death an “institutional murder”.
At the protest on Thursday
Monami Basu, member of DU’s academic council, said, “Ad-hoc teachers often take on more administrative work than permanent staff and work tirelessly to ensure the smooth functioning of the institution. Samar had been with us for almost a year, and despite a condolence meeting being held in his memory, the university's decision to continue with a campus fest raises questions about the value that is placed on the well-being of its teachers.”
Nandita Narain, the former president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, said, “When it comes to selecting people through interviews, it's important to consider the fact that having worked in the institution and being tried and tested is a great added qualification. However, it's concerning that in our university, UGC regulation 2018 gives 100 percent weightage to interviews, allowing the five interviewers to do as they please without any explanation. This system, which bypasses other constraints like teaching experience and number of points, is a breeding ground for corruption and is highly unfair.”
“I feel sad I couldn’t keep in touch with him because this is happening in all universities.”
A second-year student at the Hindu College’s philosophy department, on condition of anonymity, said, “I was disappointed with the way certain courses, such as Western philosophies, were being taught in the context of the Mahabharata, without the proper perspective. However, Singh and another recently displaced professor made those classes interesting and engaging. Despite my poor attendance in a few papers, I always made sure not to miss Singh’s lectures.”
Rusham, another student from the department, said “decent lecturers” are being compelled to leave the college.
This wasn’t the first protest meeting on the DU campus over the removal of ad-hoc staff – there was another protest at the on Monday.
In a statement, Democratic Teachers’ Front, a teachers’ organisation at DU, pointed to the long-pending demand for absorption of ad-hoc teachers “through a one time UGC regulation and were hoping that in the current round of interviews justice would be done and all those teaching against the advertised positions would be absorbed”.
Update at 12.42 pm, April 29: Some names have been removed due to concerns about protection of identity.