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TN Schoolgirl Suicide: Catholic Institute Denies Forced Conversion

"Our institutions are run on the principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution," the institute said.

Published
India
2 min read
TN Schoolgirl Suicide: Catholic Institute Denies Forced Conversion
i

After a Class 12 girl student in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district died by suicide on 19 January, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which runs the school she studied in, has denied allegations of forced religious conversion.

"Our institutions, including the 160-year-old school in Thanjavur, are run on the principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution," Brunolf Mary Fatima Paula, Superior General of the Catholic institute, said in a statement.

The girl's parents, on Monday, requested that the investigation be transferred to the Crime Branch of the police department (CBCID). Bharatiya Janata Party's state unit has been protesting since 19 January over the conversion allegations.

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'Forced To Run Personal Errands, Clean the Floor'

In a video that surfaced on social media, the 17-year-old can be 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.

On 10 January, the girl was admitted to a hospital after vomiting and complaining of severe stomach pain. When she regained consciousness, she told the doctors that she had attempted suicide by consuming Agrosone, a pesticide.

Her parents approached the police with a complaint on 15 January, and the police then met the girl at the hospital and recorded her statement.

Thanjavur Superintendent of Police Ravali Priya Gandhapuneni told The Quint that the girl had alleged that the boarding school warden had forced her to run her personal errands and made her clean the floor.

On 16 January, the student gave her final declaration to the Judicial Magistrate. She died on 19 January.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had directed the person who filmed the video, Muthuvel, to hand over the mobile phone to the police by Tuesday. The father has confirmed that the girl's mother was present at the time the video was recorded.

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.

The case has been adjourned to Friday, 28 January.

TN School Education Minister Promises '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 did not say anything about 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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