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TN 'Forced Conversion' Case: Was Asked Directly to Convert My Girl to Christianity for 'Respect', Say Parents

Parents of 17-year-old deceased, who alleged forced conversion. (Screengrab of video shared by SG Suresh)

Parents of 17-year-old deceased, who alleged forced conversion. (Screengrab of video shared by SG Suresh)

An unverified video is being shared on social media which shows the minor girl claiming that she may have been harassed after she denied converting.

Voice for justice is growing louder for a 17-year-old girl who died by suicide in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district on Wednesday. The girl’s parents have alleged that she was abused and tortured by her hostel wardens after she denied converting to Christianity. The girl consumed poison on January 9 and died 10 days later. An unverified video is being shared on social media which shows the girl claiming that she may have been harassed after she denied converting.

CNN News 18, reached out to the minor’s parents, and here are excerpts from the interview:

Q1. What happened with your daughter Lavanya?

Our daughter Lavanya was asked to convert forcefully, she was tortured, harassed, and coerced by them. She was extremely heartbroken and took the extreme step of drinking poison.

Q2. When did the school alert you? Did they tell she had consumed poison?

On January 10, that is Monday, I got a call at 9.45 am. They first asked if Lavanya was my daughter, when I confirmed, they told me that she is unwell and that she has been vomiting. They told me to come and take her home. At that point, I wasn’t told anything, not even the fact that she had consumed poison. I was under the impression that it wasn’t too serious of an illness and I took her to the general hospital for the next couple of days, I wasn’t clearly aware of what the problem was. Only after the reports came did we realise that she had consumed poison.

Q3. Did the school ask you to convert? Who asked you and when?

I was asked directly, ‘How are you going to make your daughter study, let her become like us. If she becomes like us she will get the respect and stature she deserves.’ I was asked this when they were our neighbours. I did not agree to it from the beginning and even scolded them that my daughter won’t study there. But they continued to chase my daughter, they used to tell her that she is a bright girl and even threatened her that if she revealed these things to us they will spread rumors about her character. Probably that’s the reason why she did not reveal anything to us.

Q4. What happened when she refused? Was your daughter harassed or troubled?

Only after my daughter outrightly rejected their pressure to convert was she asked to clean the toilets, cook food and maintain accounts of the place. Her main reason to feel humiliated was when she was asked to clean toilets.

Q5. Police right now are saying there was no conversion angle. Do you agree?

We are ordinary daily labourers, so the police did not take our complaints seriously. Officials did not believe anything we said regarding the case.

Q6. What is your demand?

We demand that they be jailed and the school must be sealed immediately. We have three more children, we want them to study well. I hope that somebody helps us get justice for our daughter.

Q7. Who do you blame for what has happened to your daughter?

The two school wardens, identified as Sahay Mary and Rocklyn Mary both are responsible for the death of our daughter and we demand capital punishment for them.

Q8. What do you want CM Stalin to do? Do you have a request for PM Modi?

In our request to the Chief Minister, we want to say that we are ordinary labourers. Nobody in the school should go through the torture suffered by my daughter, for that matter, no girl should undergo anything like that. Please take action against the school and give justice to our daughter. We have three more daughters, we want your help in their education.

We want to extend a request to PM Modi as well and say that please don’t let this happen to any other girl. All we want is justice for our daughter.

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first published:January 22, 2022, 11:30 IST