The Tamil Nadu police have begun probing the suicide of M Lavanya, a student of standard 12th in Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School, Thirukattupali in Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, based on her dying declaration where she alleged that the govt-aided Christian missionary school she went to had been pressuring her to convert to Christianity.
The initial FIR had simply mentioned that the student was residing at the hostel and that on January 9, the warden reportedly compelled her to undertake household tasks. She apparently attempted suicide because she couldn’t stand the brutality any longer.
Thanjavur Superintendent of Police Ravali Priya Gandhapuneni has, however, confirmed now that the Tamil Nadu police have registered her dying declaration and are basing the probe on it. The police are probing all angles including the allegation that Lavanya was facing pressure to convert to Christianity from the school authorities. But for this, police will have to first find the origin of the video, said the SP.
The girl’s parents’ initial statement was bereft of the conversion angle, said the police, adding that a new petition has been filed, in which the angle will be investigated as well.
“On January 9, a juvenile girl consumed some poisonous material. We were informed of the incident around 8:30 pm on January 15 by her parents. Immediately a video was recorded and the case was registered under the Juvenile Justice Act. The judicial magistrate recorded the girl’s dying declaration, which was included in the FIR. An FIR by the girl’s parents was also registered,” SP Ravali Priya said.
It may be recalled that a video of Lavanya’s call for help was published on social media where she was seen talking about her torture. The video, originally in Tamil (translated by The Commune) says, “My name is Lavanya. They (school) had asked my parents in my presence if they can convert me to Christianity and help her for further studies. Since I didn’t accept, they kept scolding me.” She also named one Rachael Mary who had allegedly tortured her.
SP Ravali Priya, speaking about the aforementioned video that went viral on social media, said that it was being spread in violation of the law. “The case is now under investigation,” she said, adding that anyone circulating or releasing the identify, photo, video, address, or dying declaration of the victimised teenager on social media would face legal prosecution under the Juvenile Justice Act and relevant IPC sections.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu police have remanded Rachael Mary, the 62-year-old warden in question and sent her to judicial custody in a Trichy prison.
12th standard Tamil Nadu girl ends life after missionary school allegedly pressurised her to convert to Christianity to continue her study
Lavanya has been living at the St. Michael’s Girls Hostel near her school for the past five years, and the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary school, where she was studying, had been pressuring her to convert to Christianity. However, Lavanya was adamant about not leaving her religion and refused to get converted. Angered by Lavanya’s resistance, the school administration had cancelled her leave application for Pongal Celebrations. Lavanya who was supposed to visit home during her holidays was forced to do chores like cleaning toilets of the school, cooking and washing dishes. It is reported that dejected Lavanya consumed pesticides used in the school garden to end her life.
Lavanya showed signs of discomfiture on the night of January 9, where she was taken to a local clinic after continuously vomiting. The warden of the hostel called her parents and asked them to take her home. Lavanya was then admitted to Tanjore Government Medical college hospital. She was being treated in the ICU with almost 85% of her lungs intoxicated. It is being reported that Lavanya breathed her last on January 19, battling her condition in the hospital.