The student’s father had moved High Court seeking an inquiry by the CB-CID or a similar investigating agency into the circumstances which led to the student’s suicide.

Student Lavanya from Thanjavur who died of suicide
news Court Monday, January 31, 2022 - 13:03

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ordered that the probe into the suicide of 17-year-old student Lavanya, a Class 12 student who died on January 19, will be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A bench of Justice GR Swaminathan passed orders on Lavanya’s father’s plea seeking a CB-CID inquiry into his daughter’s death. Lavanya’s death stirred controversy in Tamil Nadu after a video of her went viral after her death, in which she alleged that a nun at the hostel, Raquel Mary, had tried to force her and her parents to convert to Christianity two years ago.

Lavanya’s father had filed the petition saying that they have lost faith in the investigation by Thanjavur police and had demanded an inquiry by the CB-CID or a similar investigating agency. Lavanya M lived in a boarding house called Sacred Hearts Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur. She died on January 19. After her death, a video emerged of Lavanya, which was shot when she was admitted to hospital two days before her death. In the 44-second video, Lavanya 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.

In previous hearings, the Madras High Court had asked the person who had shot the video of the girl — a VHP leader named Muthuvel — to surrender his phone to the police for investigation into the video. The court had directed the girl’s parents to appear before the Thanjavur Judicial Magistrate and record their statements afresh, which were then submitted to the court in a sealed cover. The court had also asked Muthuvel to hand over his phone to the police and also asked the police not to ‘harass’ him over the video.

The public prosecutor told the court that Muthuvel was not cooperating with the investigation, and said that the police are looking into several angles and 53  witnesses were examined. Further, it was argued that the allegations of conversion were not made by the parents at the time the FIR was filed. The prosecution also added that they are not aware of how many videos of Lavanya were taken in total. The prosecution argued that the said videos were not released until after the girl’s death, and the allegations of conversion were not made till January 20, and that it was an attempt to make her death a political issue.

Also Read : Thanjavur student suicide: Cops say man who shot video not cooperating with probe

Meanwhile, the school had filed an impleading petition and argued that the school has been facing a ‘media trial’ and there was a ‘political narrative’ behind the entire issue. Advocate Dr Xavier Arulraj, who appeared on behalf of the school, had said that he had sent a confidential affidavit to the judge, and questioned why the allegation of ‘forced conversion’ was not put forth two years ago, when it is alleged to have happened.

Also read: Thanjavur student suicide: No complaints over religion at school in 10 yrs, says dept

While the case was being heard by the court, one more video emerged of Lavanya, which was captured two days before her death. In the newly-leaked video, which is two minutes and 24 seconds long, Lavanya narrates that she took the step to end her life after extra work by the hostel warden made her fall behind in her studies. There was no mention of conversion in this new video.

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

The BJP, which had alleged that the girl died because of pressure to convert, has welcomed the court’s verdict. A few days ago, the BJP had formed an all-women committee to inquire into the allegation that Lavanya and her parents were facing pressure to convert to Christianity.

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 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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