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Parents Alleging Conversion Attempt Behind TN Girl’s Suicide Demand CBCID Probe

Tamil Nadu School Education Minister promised "impartial action" against those responsible for the girl's death.

Published
India
3 min read
Parents Alleging Conversion Attempt Behind TN Girl’s Suicide Demand CBCID Probe
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The parents of a class 12 girl student of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, requested that the investigation be transferred to the Crime Branch of the police department (CBCID) on Monday.

Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) state unit based on a video that had surfaced, has been protesting since 19 January, alleging that the girl died by suicide as she was under pressure to convert to Christianity.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court directed the person who filmed the video to hand over the mobile phone to the police by Tuesday.
The case has been adjourned to Friday.

In the video, the 17-year-old is heard accusing the hostel warden of scolding her, forcing her to clean rooms in the hostel, and asking her parents to allow her to convert.

The police department has been directed to submit a forensic report of the mobile phone and also the report to ascertain the cause of death by Thursday.

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'Girl’s Mother was Present at the Time of the Video Being Recorded'

On 10 January, the minor girl was admitted in a hospital after she had vomited and complained of severe stomach pain. She was then transferred to the Tanjore Medical College Hospital. When she regained consciousness, she told the doctors that she had attempted suicide by consuming Agrosone, a pesticide.

The parents approached the police with a complaint on 15 January and the police then met with the girl at the hospital and recorded her statement. Thanjavur Superintendent of Police Ravali Priya Gandhapuneni, told The Quint that in both the FIR and the statement, the girl had alleged that the boarding school warden had forced her to run her personal errands and made her “clean the floor” and “so she couldn’t focus on her studies.”

On 16 January, at 4.10 pm, the student's declaration was recorded on video by the Judicial Magistrate. However, 24 hours after the death of the girl, on 19 January, the video alleging "conversion" began circulating on social media.

“We are yet to ascertain the veracity of the video. We have summoned Muthuvel (the person who shot the video) tomorrow and only when we check the time stamp, will we be able to confirm when the video was shot. We will be enquiring the parents also tomorrow,” she said.

Karthikeya Venkatachalapathy, the counsel representing the girl's family told The Quint that the video was recorded before the girl gave her final statement to the judicial magistrate.

The parents and the advocate refused to answer why the video was not submitted to the police and was instead released on social media. The father of the child confirmed that her mother was present at the time the video was recorded by Muthuvel.

The girl's father on Saturday had complained to the court that the Thanjavur police were pressuring them in the case.

“The video was shot by the child's relative or friend. The mother of the survivor was present when the video was recorded. In another video doing the rounds on social media, the mother of the child is visible and is seen asking the child if anyone had forced her to convert to Christianity at school. The police need to consider all evidence and it is an irresponsible statement that this allegation was not mentioned in the complaint or FIR," he alleged.

"The focus of the police authorities should be on the circumstances that led to the suicide of the child and it cannot be directed against the person who had taken the video,” the High Court said on Saturday.

TN Education Min Assures “Impartial Action”

Tamil Nadu School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi on Monday promised "impartial action" against those responsible for the girl's death. Addressing a press conference, he said that police had informed him that the girl in her dying declaration recorded before the government authorities did not speak anything on forced conversion.

Appealing to political parties like BJP not to "politicise the issue" Poyyamozhi promised an "unbiased probe." The minister also took objection to the video, saying the student was asked "provocative questions" by the interviewer who had "no right" to record such declarations.

He added that the Chief Education Officer (CEO) of Thanjavur district has spoken to students and almuni of the concerned school and the issue of forced conversion did not come up during the investigation.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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