CBI launches probe into Thanjavur schoolgirl’s death 

Victim took the extreme step after being scolded and made to do hard labour: FIR

Updated - February 16, 2022 04:16 am IST

Published - February 15, 2022 09:58 pm IST - CHENNAI

A day after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with a Madras High Court order transferring the investigation into a 17-year-old schoolgirl’s death by suicide in Thanjavur, the agency’s Special Crimes Branch here registered a case and launched an investigation into the “unnatural death”.

The CBI adopted the original First Information Report of the Thirukattupalli police in Thanjavur district, which had no reference to any forced religious conversion. In her statement to a Sub-Inspector at the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, the girl said she was a Class XII student at Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School, Michaelpatti, in the district. 

She could not concentrate on her studies because the hostel warden, Sister Sagaya Mary, asked her and other students to clean the premises, remove grass from the ground, etc. The warden also took the girl to an office in Karumandapam in Tiruchi in connection with matters concerning the running of the school hostel, without her mother’s knowledge.

The girl said she was under mental stress, and she did not share this with her parents or anyone else. On January 9, she tried to kill herself, since she was being asked to do “more and more work and was also getting scolded”. On seeing her vomiting, Sister Sagaya Mary asked her to take rest. “Since I was repeatedly vomiting, Kannamma, a cook working at the hostel, took me to Jersintha, a nurse in a nearby area, and I was given one injection and two tablets,” the FIR quoted the girl as saying. 

On the next day, her parents took her home. After she complained of persistent stomach ache, she was admitted to Kulathur Government Hospital on January 11, and then shifted to Thirumanur Government Hospital. On January 15, after consultation at a private clinic in Ariyalur, she was admitted to the Thanjavur Medical College Hospital, where she died four days later.

The Thirukattupalli police registered a case under Sections 305 (Abetment of suicide of child) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the IPC. They also invoked provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Sagaya Mary was arrested and remanded in judicial custody.

The incident triggered a controversy after a video was circulated on social media, in which the victim allegedly said she was asked to convert to Christianity. When asked if any action was taken on the basis of the video, a senior police official said the mobile phone was sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis. “We wanted to check whether the video was edited and, if it was, determine what the original content was and the motive behind editing it,” a senior police official said.

The CBI has nominated an officer in the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police to investigate the case.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050)

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