Days after 13-year-old Aradhana, a girl belonging to the Jain community died after fasting for 68 days, the Hyderabad police is finding it tough to arrest her parents.
Meanwhile, many Jain leaders have come forward defending the parents who encouraged her fast and even took her out in a procession on the last day of her fast. Community leaders say Aradhana didn't die "due to the ritual" and she had suffered a 'cardiac arrest'.
On October 9, the Market Police station in Secunderabad registered a case under section 304-II of the IPC, which is culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and sections of the Juvenile Justice Act, after an FIR was filed against Aradhana's parents Lakshmichand and Manisha Samadaria.
The complaint was filed by Anuradha Rao of the AP Balala Hakkula Sangha, a child rights organization based in Hyderabad.
Speaking to The News Minute, a police officer who is part of the investigation said "We have not made any arrests yet but we are investigating the case, and seeking legal opinion."
The problem that the police face, is that the body was cremated before the news even became public.
Late in the night of October 3, a day after she finished her long fast, Aradhana fainted and was rushed to the hospital, where she was declared 'brought dead' after a cardiac arrest.
For more than 2 months, she had not had any food, surviving on boiled water.
However, the incident came to light only on October 7, after an activist lodged a complaint with the Hyderabad police.
The certificate by the doctor, which is now in public domain, may be the only evidence that the police have, and it is insufficient to make a headway in the case.
‚ÄúThe girl was cremated soon after her death. We cannot establish the cause of death because there is no scope for exhumation. The doctor gave a medical report suggesting it was due to cardiac arrest. It indeed is difficult to go ahead with charges against the parents,‚ÄĚ a senior official from the North Zone police told Deccan Chronicle.
Child activists meanwhile, have been crying themselves hoarse, demanding that the parents be arrested.
‚ÄúIt is a barbaric incident. It is murder and they should be punished. The officials should take strict action against such practices and never allow anything like this happen again,‚ÄĚ child rights activist Achyutha Rao earlier told TNM.
On the 68th day of her fast, the family conducted a ‚Äėrath yatra‚Äô for Aradhana, to the Jain Bhavan, and paraded her on a chariot, with around 600 people joining in.
More than 1,500 people attended the event they conducted at the Jain Bhavan after the rath yatra. Hundreds of people visited her during the 68 days, to ‚Äėbless her‚Äô.
What has further angered many was the celebration of her death with a ‚Äėshobha yatra‚Äô, and calls to anoint her ‚Äėbal tapasvi‚Äô, after her funeral was allegedly conducted with religious fanfare.
Ever since the death of the 13-year-old, Jain leaders have also spoken out and stood behind the family of the girl.
‚ÄúWe will support the Jain family morally and legally, because we know they did not do anything wrong. Aradhana‚Äôs death is a loss for the whole community, and it was not because of the fast,‚ÄĚ said Jain guru Sri Ravindra Muniji, at a press conference on Tuesday.
‚ÄúEven on her 68th day of fast she was glowing and looking healthy,‚ÄĚ he added.
The Jain guru also said that the community is being targeted and that Aradhana‚Äôs death was being wrongly presented by the media. He also warned activists not to interfere.
According to reports, the leaders of the community also wrote to the Hyderabad police commissioner on Wednesday, alleging that the case is without merit and violates the constitutional right to religious freedom.
The letter also lists children who, like Aradhana, fasted for several months during "chaturmas" (four holy months of penance). NDTV is withholding the names of the children who are part of the petition. An eight-year-old from Ahmedabad went without food for 83 days. A six-year-old fasted for 75 days.
However, the police claim that they will not succumb to the pressure from the community.
"We did learn about the letter, and other demands of the community leaders, but we will continue our investigations as per the legal route," the investigating police officer told TNM.