Examine victim’s video that mentions ‘forced-conversion’, Court tells Tamil Nadu Govt in student suicide case 

Written By: Sidharth MP WION
CHENNAI Updated: Jan 24, 2022, 08:56 PM(IST)

File photo: Madras High Court. Photograph:( DNA )

Story highlights

The case pertains to a 17-year old girl from a poor background who studied at a Christian Missionary School in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district. According to police, the victim had consumed poisonous material on January 9th and succumbed ten days later. 

The Madras High Court ordered the Tamil Nadu government to examine the ‘dying declaration’ video of the minor girl who ended her life after mentioning ‘forced religious conversion" (in an unverified video). The Tamil Nadu government informed the court that 14 of the 37 people added as witnesses, including classmates, students, and school staff, had been questioned in connection with the case. 

In addition to a CD of the ‘dying declaration’ video of the victim being submitted, the court also granted permission for questioning of the person who shot this video and forensic examination of his phone. 

The case pertains to a 17-year old girl from a poor background who studied at a Christian Missionary School in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district. According to police, the victim had consumed poisonous material on January 9th and succumbed ten days later. 

In an unverified video, she is seen saying, "In front of me, 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". 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 per the Legal Rights Protection Forum's (LRPF) complaint to India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the victim’s school had been illegally converting children into Christianity and was imposing corporal punishment on those who resisted. It added that this was causing mental agony to students and driving them to extremes.

"The victim was forced to convert to Christianity and when she refused the same, she was refused permission to return home from the hostel. "She was made to clean toilets and wash dishes," reads the complaint. It also adds that the child tried to end her life owing to the atrocities inflicted upon her (following which, she eventually succumbed).

During the hearing on Monday, the judge was presented with the sealed cover report based on the victim’s parents’ testimony, which they had submitted in-person before the District Magistrate, on Sunday. On the insistence of the government, Justice GR Swaminathan had ordered that the mobile phone in which the clip mentioning ‘forced conversion’ was shot, had to be submitted for Forensic Examination. It was also added that the man who shot the said video had to appear in person for questioning on Tuesday. Granting time until Thursday (27th Jan) for a report to be filed in the case, the Court adjourned the matter to Friday, 28th January. 

Earlier, Ravali Priya IPS, Superintendent of Police ,Thanjavur, had said that the person who shot the video would also be made an accused in this case. Following this, in the first hearing of the case, the Court had instructed the Cops to not harass the victim’s parents or the person who shot the video. The judge had made it clear to the Cops that there shouldn’t be any complaints against the latter’s work. He had insisted that the cops focus on the contents and the statement made in the video and its veracity, rather than the person who shot it. 

The matter came to Court after the victim’s parents sought a CB-CID probe in the case. 

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