A Hindu girl has taken her life in a government-aided Christian institution in Tamil Nadu. Even as the issue of a 17 year old girl allegedly dying by suicide in a private boarding school rocks the state, another girl has hanged herself in a church-run school. While the school claims it is a suicide, parents allege foul play.
Sarala, the 17 year old Hindu girl was studying at the Sacred Heart Girls Higher Secondary School in Keelakurichi, Thiruvallur. The school is government aided and has boarding facilities as well. Students from far-off places are staying and studying at the school, and Sarala is from a village in Tiruttani in the same district.
On July 25, Sarala had, as usual, woken up early and gotten ready to go to school. She reportedly told her friends she would be late to school and went to the hostel room after breakfast. But she didn’t come to school and her friends alerted the staff. When the hostel authorities went to check on her, she was found hanging in the room. 500 girls are estimated to be studying in the school. In a recent issue of another girl, Srimathi taking her life on the premises of a private boarding school resulted in violent protests in which the school was vandalised and buses were set on fire.
So parents of students studying at the Sacred Heart school feared the same might repeat following the death of Sarala and rushed to take their children home. A police officer reportedly told TNIE, “Lavanya did not go home for a month. Her friends said that she was gloomy for the past few months”. But her family claims otherwise and allege foul play in her death. Initially they refused to accept her mortal remains, alleging that the school kept changing their version.
Her sister Gayathri who spoke to the media said, “She isn’t someone who can commit suicide. She spoke to our family last night as well. We won’t take her body without knowing what exactly happened to her”. Police forces have been deployed in the school and Sarala’s native, after the villagers staged a protest. The Madras High Court had earlier directed that CB-CID should investigate all deaths in schools. So local police have handed over Sarala’s case to CB-CID after registering her parent’s complaint.
In January 2022, another 17 year old Hindu girl Lavanya consumed pesticide, unable to bear the torture at the Sacred Heart Girls School in Thanjavur. If not for her dying declaration, the fact that she decided to take her life as she was tortured for refusing to convert to Christianity and live with the nuns would not have come out. The issue brought forth another similar incident from 2006, where a girl died under suspicious circumstances on the premises of a girl’s school run by Christian missionaries. Later it was found that she was raped and murdered by padres who visited the school. Sarala’s death should be investigated in that angle as well to bring justice to her.