Nadia Ashraf
Nadia Ashraf Image Credit: Twitter

A student’s suicide from a university in the city of Karachi in Pakistan has created an uproar online as reports of the youngster trying to pursue a PhD being harassed by a professor have emerged.

Nadia Ashraf was a doctoral student at Dr. Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Research at Karachi University, but she was unable to complete her PhD in the last 15 years and was reportedly harassed by her thesis supervisor, according to social media posts. She was also suffering from psychological and family issues, according to local media reports.

The incident has upset students in Karachi University. There are demands for higher state authorities to take notice of the incident.

Students are demanding that Ashraf’s death be investigated.

The International Centre for Chemical & Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at the University of Karachi has termed news and social media posts linking the suicide of Ashraf with her PhD at the Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine & Drug Research (PCMD) as “baseless and unfounded”.

According to local news reports, a representative said that Ashraf enrolled for her PhD in 2007. The ICCBS said she was provided an opportunity to train in France with other students but was unable to focus on her research due to family issues and personal health.

The spokesman said she stopped coming to the centre for a few years and started working at private universities to support her family, adding that she occasionally visited the centre to meet with her colleagues and supervisor.

According to news reports, the statement claimed that she was severely depressed and frequently mentioned her serious family issues, including the unexplained disappearance of her father a long time ago, and was also concerned about her own health and her mother.

Following her death, ‘Nadia Ashraf’ trended on Twitter in Pakistan. Some demanded #JusticeForNadiaAshraf as the institute and professor were accused for alleged harassment.

Twitter user @mani_hahs posted: “PhD student Nadia Ashraf of Panjwani Center, Karachi University has allegedly committed suicide. Nadia Ashraf used to tell her close friends: ‘Dr Iqbal Chaudhry will not allow me to have a PhD’. ‘Don’t know what the doctor wants from me.’ I hope the matter is investigated thoroughly.”

While there were those who tried to shut down speculations.

Tweep @umermahd wrote: “Did Nadia Ashraf say before committing suicide that she has been harassed? What proof do you have? No one can be blamed until the case is decided….”