Chennai: India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has issued a notice to Tamil Nadu’s Director General of Police over a tragic incident involving a 17-year old girl. As per the complaint received by the NCPCR, the victim, a student from Ariyalur, pursuing her 12th grade in Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School, Thanjavur, had allegedly attempted to end her life after being forced by school authorities to convert to Christianity.
The higher secondary girl had attempted suicide on January 9 and had died on January 19. As per NCPCR, the complaint also mentions that the said Sacred Heart school had been illegally converting children into Christianity and was imposing corporal punishments on those who resisted. It is mentioned that this was causing mental agony to students and driving them to extreme steps.
In the said case, as per the complaint, the 17-year old victim (a Hindu, girl student staying in the hostel) was allegedly forced to convert into Christianity and when she resisted, she was refused permission to return home from the hostel. She was forced to clean toilets and wash dishes, following which she attempted to end her life and eventually succumbed.
“In front of me also they asked my parents about converting me to Christianity so that she would make me study. She would also keep scolding me and not let me stay there,” the victim is heard saying in a feeble voice, in an unverified video shared by Legal Rights Protection Forum. Later, when asked who she was referring to, the victim is heard saying, “Sister Rachel Mary”. When asked if she was tortured because she refused to convert to Christianity, the victim is heard saying “it could be possible”. As mentioned, this is an unverified video and Zee News could not independently verify it.
With a copy of the said testimony video, a Twitter page known as Legal Rights Protection Forum had highlighted the issue and filed a complaint with the NCPCR. In response, NCPCR Chairman, Priyank Kanoongo has urged the Tamil Nadu DGP to act on the issue, immediately.
As per the NCPCR response letter, this incident of alleged forced conversion is in contravention of Article 25 and Article 28(3) of the Indian Constitution, provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, and various provisions of the Indian Penal Code. It was also mentioned that, within seven days, Tamil Nadu’s top police official is required to file a report with the NCPCR, on the action that has been taken. At the time of writing, a hashtag has been trending on social media, demanding justice for the deceased victim.
However, according to Ravali Priya, Superintendent of Police, Thanjavur, the said juvenile girl had consumed poisonous material on January 9. “On the night of January 15, we got information from her parents. Immediately Police took a video and recorded the statement and filed a case under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act. The Judicial Magistrate of Thanjavur has also taken the dying declaration of the girl, based on a doctor certifying her mental and health condition. In the first information given by the parents, a police video statement or the Judicial Magistrate – one accused was being made out and Police have secured and remanded that individual. The case is under investigation” she added.
The IPS officer also mentioned that cops had filed a case to add whoever was responsible for the victim’s dying declaration video (being circulated on social media), as an accused in the case. “Only the first information report given by parents we have with us, in that they have not given any angle of conversion. Today, they have given us one petition and we are going to investigate that” she said.