Six months after a 13-year-old girl died after fasting for 68 days, the Hyderabad police have now allegedly dropped the case against her parents.
Aradhana Samadaria, a 13-year-old girl from the Jain community who resided in Hyderabad with her family, died in October last year after fasting for 68 days for religious reasons. Activists had filed complaints against her parents for violation of child rights, but apparently, the case has now come to a dead end.
Balala Hakkula Sangha (BHS), a child rights organisation based in Hyderabad which had filed the case against Aradhanaâ€™s parents, has alleged that the police has been biased towards the accused from the very beginning
BHS has alleged that Aradhana had been forced to fast by her parents, and had filed a complaint with the police demanding action against them. They had lodged a complaint with the Market police station in Secunderabad under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC and several sections of the Juvenile Justice Act.
BHS President Achyuta Rao said that the police booked Aradhana's parents Lakshmichand and Manisha Samadaria under Section 304 (II) of the IPC - culpable homicide not amounting to murder - and Section 75 of the JJ Act â€świth great difficulty.â€ť
The police however informed them on Saturday that the case against the parents has been dropped.
In a statement released on Sunday, BHS President Achyuta Rao has accused the police of closing the case without conducting "in-depth inquiry" or "examining the evidence". Rao wrote that the police just misused its powers and closed the case by calling it "false", and also stated lack of evidence.
The police even "facilitated the accused to go out of state to enable them to escape for the arrest and awaited till they get relief from court not to arrest... (sic)", Rao claimed.
Calling the police act "biased", he wrote that there is "strong evidence" in the form of an advertisement on the Hindi Milap, a daily, which was released by the family just after Aradhana had completed her fast. The advertisement, according to Rao, announced that their daughter had completed a fast of 68 days and hence they were celebrating it by even inviting politicians.
BHS is now seeking a CBI enquiry in the case and said that they will also approach the court regarding the same.
Late in the night of October 3, a day after she finished her 68 day long fast, Aradhana fainted and was rushed to the hospital, where she was declared "brought dead" after a cardiac arrest.
For more than two 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.
Speaking to The News Minute last year, Aradhana's father Lakshmichand Samadaria had claimed that they had not forced their daughter to observe a fast, but that she herself had insisted on keeping one.
Sitting at his jewellery shop in Hyderabadâ€™s Pot Bazar, he told TNM that it was not the first time she was fasting. "She was just 7-years old when she started it. In 2014, she fasted for 8 days. Last year she fasted for 34 days during the chaumasa," he claimed.
While many Jain leaders also came forward to defend the parents who encouraged her and even took her out in a procession on the last day of her fast, child rights activists have called Aradhana's death "murder".
"It 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 to happen again,â€ť Achyuta Rao had earlier told TNM.
"Allowing a child starve to death, even if it was for religious rituals, is criminal. Action must be taken against them under child protection laws," he had pointed out.
The police had earlier said that it was difficult for them to find evidence since the body had been cremated even before the matter had come to their notice.
"The 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," a senior official from the North Zone police had told Deccan Chronicle.