Indian nun arrested after suicide of minor girlAn old video of the deceased girl alleging a conversion attempt has complicated the case in Tamil Nadu state
A state court has ordered forensic testing of old video footage about an alleged attempt to convert a minor girl who recently committed suicide in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.
Sister Sahaya Mary, a 62-year-old member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also known as Pondicherry Blue Sisters, has been arrested and sent to judicial custody after the death of the 17-year-old girl studying in class 12 at Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur district falling under Kumbakonam Diocese.
The nun was the warden of the school hostel where the girl resided and reportedly consumed poison on Jan. 9. She was rushed to a hospital but died on Jan. 19 while undergoing treatment.
In her statement to police, the girl alleged that she took the extreme step after the hostel warden made her clean the rooms.
Meanwhile, an older video surfaced on social media of the girl alleging that a nun, whom she does not name, had asked her parents’ permission to convert her to Christianity.
A male voice in the background of the 47-second video asks her if her parents’ refusal was the reason behind her harassment by the warden and she replies: “It may be.”
Though the girl in her dying declaration recorded before a magistrate did not allude to any attempts to convert her to Christianity, police have registered a case and are looking for the person who recorded and posted the video on social media.
But pro-Hindu groups including members of the Bharatiya Janata Party have demanded action against the nun for attempting to convert the minor girl.
Her father, S. Muruganantham, moved the Madurai bench of Madras High Court seeking the direction of handing over the police probe into her suicide to the state’s Criminal Investigation Department or any other independent probe agency.
A bench of Justice G.R. Swaminathan in its order on Jan. 24, however, issued a set of guidelines to the police including confirming the authenticity of the video footage through “appropriate forensic analysis.”
The court also directed the police to locate the original mobile phone on which the video was shot as the girl’s father claims to know its owner.
The court posted the next hearing in the case to Jan. 28.
Church leaders said the allegations against Sister Mary and the video footage of the victim could be motivated.
Father A. Sandhanam, a lawyer, told UCA News that the video alleging a conversion attempt appears to be two years old. “The school has been involved in educating girls in the area for over a century and never before was there any allegation of religious conversion,” he said