BJP has alleged that the student’s suicide was due to pressure to convert to Christianity, a claim that has not been verified yet and is still being probed by the police.

Lavanya M, Thanjavur student who died by suicide
news Thanjavur student suicide Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 16:27

The BJP on Thursday, January 27, formed a committee to visit Thanjavur to inquire into the death of 17-year-old Lavanya, the student who died by suicide on January 19. The BJP has alleged that the student’s death was after “harassment and coercion to get converted by school management.” However, the claims that Lavanya was being pressured to convert to Christianity is still being probed by the police. 

In a statement, the BJP said that the party’s national president JP Nadda has constituted a four-member committee to visit the place of the incident and submit its report to him at the earliest. BJP MP Sandhya Ray and party leaders Vijayashanti, Chitra Wagh, and Geetha Vivekananda are on the committee. 

Lavanya M lived in a boarding house of Sacred Hearts Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur. She died on January 19 and the student’s suicide has snowballed into a political controversy in Tamil Nadu. The BJP has claimed that she died by suicide after being pressured to convert to Christianity. The basis of this allegation is a 44-second video of Lavanya taken before her death and which had later gone viral, in which she can be heard saying that two years ago, a woman called Raquel Mary had asked her to convert to Christianity, which she and her parents refused. 

However, on Thursday, another video of Lavanya emerged, in which she says she took the step to end her life after extra work by the hostel warden made her fall behind in her studies. This video makes no mention of the conversion allegation.

TNM has learnt that there are a total of four videos that were recorded by Muthuvel, who is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Ariyalur District Secretary. He had recorded it on his phone on January 17 when he went to the hospital. While the 44-second clip had gone viral soon after her death, the second video surfaced on Thursday.  

Also read: VHP man shot 3 videos of Thanjavur student, no mention of conversion in new video

With the emergence of the newly-leaked video, the police are also investigating various angles pertaining to the four videos, as well as the chronology in which they were shot, and whether there was any coercion. As for the student's suicide, the police are investigating whether there was any torture by the school, whether there was any harassment from her stepmother, whether there was any attempt to convert the student and whether their refusal led to tension. 

If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.   

Tamil Nadu

State health department's suicide helpline: 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)

Andhra Pradesh

Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930

Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584

Karnataka

Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222

Kerala

Maithri: 0484 2540530

Chaithram: 0484 2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Telangana

State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104

Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200

SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 amd and 7 pm)

Aasara offers support to inidviduals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those  undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one.

24x7 Helpline: 9820466726 

Click here for working helplines across India.

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