DMK MLA Inigo Irudayaraj posted a photo of himself wrapping a shawl around Sagaya Mary as she stepped out of the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison on bail.

DMK MLA Inigo Irudayaraj greeting Sagaya MaryImage: Facebook/Inigo Irudayaraj
news Lavanya case Monday, February 14, 2022 - 16:14

A legislator of the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, Inigo Iruthayaraj, triggered a row after he was seen welcoming Sagaya Mary, the hostel warden named as one of the main accused in the Lavanya suicide case, as she was released from jail on bail. A photo posted on social media by DMK MLA from Tiruchirappalli (East) Inigo Irudayaraj shows him wrapping a shawl around 62-year-old Sagaya Mary as she stepped out of the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison after she was granted bail by a Thanjavur court. Sagaya Mary was named by Lavanya in her confession to the magistrate as the person who tortured her and extorted physical and mental labour from her, leading to her suicide.

In a Facebook post, the legislator described Sagaya Mary as someone who worked for the education of rural poor children and said that he decided to welcome her and enquire about her well-being after learning that she was being released from jail. “Justice will prevail. We will continue to work for religious harmony,” he wrote in the post.


A screenshot of the DMK MLA's Facebook post

Lavanya, a student of Sacred Hearts Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur, was staying in the hostel provided by the school and passed away on January 19 at the Thanjavur Medical College. Three days before her death, on January 16, Lavanya had recorded a statement before the magistrate and described in detail the kind of torture she had allegedly been subjected to by Sagaya Mary.

In the written statement recorded by the Magistrate, Lavanya said that Sagaya Mary used to force her to do chores and the accounts for the hostel, and mistreated her regularly. In the statement, Lavanya also accused Sagaya Mary of abusing her and physically assaulting her, besides refusing to give her food properly when she wasn’t able to pay the hostel fees. These allegations are also repeated in the first FIR that was registered in the case. The hostel warden Sagaya Mary was arrested and remanded to judicial custody on the basis of Lavanya’s statement.

Following Lavanya’s death, a video was released of Lavanya on her deathbed, saying that two years ago, another nun at the school, Raquel Mary, had asked her to convert to Christianity. When the man recording the video — a VHP activist called Muthuvel — asks her if her refusal to convert was the reason she was mistreated, Lavanya says, “It could be so.” The video and a campaign run by the BJP and VHP after Lavanya’s death alleged that the student was forced to kill herself because of forced conversion. The case has been transferred from the state police to the CBI by the Madras High Court. The Supreme Court on Monday, February 14, allowed the CBI to proceed with the probe into the case. The High Court on January 31 transferred the probe to the CBI.

Also read: 

The four VHP men who made Lavanya's suicide a rallying point for the BJP in TN

Conversion angle not improbable: What Madras HC said on Thanjavur student suicide case

With PTI inputs

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