The issue of religious conversions has been an emotive one in the state of Tamil Nadu for several years. The state had even brought a law in 2002 to restrict religious conversions carried out by force, fraud, or inducements. However, in 2006, the law was repealed owing to protests.
Yet, religious conversion is becoming a hot issue in Tamil Nadu all over again. This time, because of the death of a 17-year old girl over allegations of abuse and forced conversion.
Some shocking news has come from Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur. A class 12 girl attempted to end her life after being forced to convert to Christianity. She died on Wednesday.
The deceased girl alleged abuse and forced conversion attempt
As per India Today, the 17-year old girl was living in a boarding house in Thanjavur. A video has come to light in which the girl said that she was constantly scolded and also made to clean all the rooms in the hostel by the hostel warden.
The girl alleged that she was constantly forced to take up Christianity.
As per NDTV, an unverified video has surfaced in which the deceased girl suspects the abuse by her hostel warden could be due to her family’s refusal to convert. The girl is heard saying, “Two years ago they asked my parents and me to convert to Christianity. They said they will take care of my education.”
When asked whether she was targeted for not converting, she said, “May be.”
The victim consumed pesticides
It is being reported that the deceased girl consumed pesticides on January 9 due to harassment and abuse being faced by her. The victim had complained of severe stomach ache and was also admitted to a hospital.
The father of the deceased girl said that the school management contacted him on January 10 and told him that his daughter was admitted to a hospital following vomiting and complaints of severe stomach pain.
When she regained consciousness, she narrated her ordeal to the doctors who informed the Thirukattupalli police about the incident.
Girl’s parents demand an investigation into conversion allegations
The hostel warden has been arrested under the Juvenile Act and also for abetting the suicide of the deceased girl. Meanwhile, the girl’s parents have demanded an investigation into conversion allegations as well.
However, police officials say that neither the girl nor the family had complained about the alleged conversion. Ravali Priya Gandhapuneni, SP Thanjavur, said, “We had video recorded her complaint, her statement to the Judicial Magistrate, and her dying declaration. She did not say anything about conversion. Nor did her parents allege this. We are now investigating this allegation also.”
On the other hand, BJP state President K Annamalai has reacted sharply. He has called for a fair investigation and has also called conversion a rapidly spreading poisonous plant while urging the state government to “control” it.
Annamalai has alleged that there the FIR in the case doesn’t refer to the girl’s statement on attempts of “forced conversion.” He said, “The video statement of the girl before her death shows that the student was forced by the warden to convert. The government should order an unbiased probe into the incident and bring the accused before the law. The government should implement anti-conversion law.”
At the end of the day, human life has been lost and that too of a minor girl. The allegations are pretty serious and the conversion angle makes it that much more sensitive. No child deserves to be put through such an ordeal in any case, least of all over conversion attempts.