Police use water cannon on protesters demanding the resignation of the Hyderabad University vice-chancellor over the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. Photograph: Hindustan Times via Getty Images
They were expelled from their university residence and told they were not allowed to enter any campus buildings, eat at the mess or vote in student elections. The exclusion was likened by supporters to the old practice of veli wada, in which Dalits were forced out of their villages into ghettoes.
According to Professor Shepherd, university administrations ignore widespread caste discrimination. Education in a situation of inequality and humiliation with no consolement of any kind is a source of suicide among Dalit students.
Sukhadeo Thorat agrees: My research indicates that experiences of discrimination, exclusion and humiliation are the predominant reasons for Dalit student suicides. While the statistics are sketchy, one estimate suggests that between 2007 and 2011, 18 Dalit students killed themselves.
JNU has begun an internal inquiry into Krishnans death which, according to Dr Rajesh Kharat, the head of its anti-discrimination cell, was the universitys first Dalit suicide. It has further agreed that if students are not happy with the outcome of this inquiry, it will set up an independent one.
Kharat says that having spent 30 years at the university, he believes caste discrimination is confined to very small pockets adding that the anti-discrimination cell had received no complaints in its first two years. However, since Krishnans death, we have had six or seven complaints of caste discrimination, which we are looking into.
JNU is known for providing access to opportunities for poor communities, Kharat says. They have gone to join the civil service and academia. But we mustnt be complacent; the inquiry has to act fast so this young mans death does not discourage other students.
Former JNU student Jitendra Suna describes the anti-discrimination cell as non-functional, however. Have they done a single thing to sensitise faculty and students to the need for equal treatment? No. If they were serious, they could have implemented the  Thorat committees recommendations.
Suicide is usually the result of multiple factors, not just one, Kharat adds. I dont know why Krishnan didnt approach any of our Dalit faculty. I myself am from the same community, but he didnt come to me.
A friend of Krishnan, who asked not to be named, says it is not a cover-up that he fears, but indifference: We want an independent inquiry, not an internal one. At the condolence meeting, some faculty were already putting the suicide down to personal issues, so thats how they might gloss over it.
Such fears may not be unfounded. An inquiry into Vemulas death in 2016 based mainly on interviews with faculty members concluded he had killed himself out of personal frustration, rather than caste discrimination.
And yet, in a letter dated 18 December 2015 that was made public after his death, Vemula wrote to the vice-chancellor of Hyderabad University to raise the issue of discrimination. In the letter, he warns that university authorities should make preparations for the facility of EUTHANASIA for students like me.
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Many Indian cities have helplines run by voluntary organisations that those in distress can contact. For example, Samaritans Mumbai can be called on 022 6464 3267 or 022 6565 3267. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123