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The Independent's Asia Correspondent Andrew Buncombe is based in Delhi. His dominion ranges over India, Pakistan, Burma, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, occasionally parts of South East Asia and - or at least he is hoping - The Maldives.

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Was a gay Indian academic driven to take his own life?

Posted by Andrew Buncombe
  • Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 11:55 am

Amid the flurry of sad stories that filled the papers today - for instance, the awful, heart-breaking accounts of the Indian troops under deadly fire from Maoist rebels phoning their families to say good-bye - the tale of Shrinivas Ramachandra Siras caught my eye.
  Siras was a professor of Marathi, one of the many Indian languages, at Aligarh's University and earlier this year he had been suspended for "gross misconduct" after video footage emerged of him having sex with a rickshaw driver. Siras protested the suspension and insisted that the sex between the two men had been entirely consensual and that he had broken no laws. Indeed, it rapidly emerged he had been set up. Thankfully, while the university may have acted in an appalling way in deciding to suspend him, many of Siras's students and colleagues supported him.
 The high court in Allahabad agreed with them and decided that the 64-year-old should have his job back."I am happy because I have been judged in a wrong way. I have already said that I am gay. I am the same man, with the same qualification, with the same features and personality," he said at the time.
 Siras had returned to work on Monday, but was due to retire in September. According to a report in the Indian Express, Siras had told the reporter that he wanted to move to the US to teach Marathi and dedicate his life to working for gay rights. "America is the only place I will be free to be gay," he said. 
 Siras will never make it to America. On Wednesday, police broke into his rented room after the landlord complained of a smell and found his body, blood reportedly oozing from his mouth. The police are now conducting forensic tests. They have said while it is possible he could suffered a heart attack, they believe it more likely Siras took his own life.
 India is slowly making progress in confronting the prejudice towards gays. Last year, in a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court ruled that gay sex was not a crime and the government is said to be rewriting notorious British-era legislation that had made it so. Both Mumbai and Delhi have also had their first gay pride marches.
 Yet for all of that, there is very long way to go in ending discrimination. The case of this academic, who happened to be Hindu and who was set-up by some Muslim students posing as journalists who installed secret cameras in his home and then passed on the subsequent video to the university administration, is depressing proof of that.

Comments

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savo123 wrote:
Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 12:40 pm (UTC)
what is a big deal?
are we supposed to feel sorry because he was gay?
how many heterosexuals commit the suicide?
Was he driven?
had_it wrote:
Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 01:44 pm (UTC)
I don't know and your piece does not tell me.
helen40 wrote:
Thursday, 8 April 2010 at 04:19 pm (UTC)
The point of the article 'Savo' is not about suicide, but rather about a University who inappropriately suspended an employee and in general, about the current viewpoint in India on homosexuality.
Read again.
biochem456 wrote:
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 at 05:04 am (UTC)
Gay-sex is a very difficult topic t discuss... Clearly government should not ask about private live, but otherwise private live should not be publicized.
(no subject) - ban_ray - Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 11:23 am (UTC)
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