Tamilnadu for the past week witnessed a series of protests mainly by cadres of the BJP and other Hindu right wing outfits over the suicide by a young girl in a school which is run by a Christian organisation. Although the incident took place on January 19, her death had controversy forced upon it through allegations of forcible religious conversion according to the cadres of the state BJP. Let us delve into the matter deeply through accounts of the incident that have been shared so far.

The young 17 year old girl who was a student of a renowned Christian missionary school in Thanjavur had tried to take her own life. In a video which was being circulated till last week, the girl appears to be complaining about the school administration saying she was harassed by the sisters of the school, one of whom was also supposedly the hostel warden. In the video, an unidentified man, whose voice is heard asking questions to the girl who supposedly at the time was receiving treatment.

In the alleged video, the young girl also gave a purported statement in which she said that she was harassed and targeted for not converting to Christianity, and was asked to do menial chores outside her usual studying hours for not acceding to the alleged demands. This alleged video went viral on social media and soon enough the Hindutva outfits in the state started to raise the banner of forced religious conversion.

The young girl unfortunately died in spite of medical treatment.

The school which had categorically denied all the accusations also issued a statement, saying that no such incident of religious conversion had ever taken place, in their institution which has a 170-year-old tradition and where no such incidents have been reported in the past. They said they have been running the school on secular lines and only seek to provide quality education to students of all communities. But this didn’t put off the statewide protests called by the state BJP unit and soon enough major events of condemnation were conducted in all the major districts in Tamilnadu.

Meanwhile new developments began to take place and the entire video debate was again brought into question. So far, the state BJP had stressed upon the fact that an attempted forcible religious conversion had taken place, and their cadres who were seen jeering the DMK government in the state had now embroiled themselves into a controversy.

It is now alleged that the unidentified person who was supposedly a VHP cadre member had apparently shot multiple videos in which he is heard asking the young girl if she was ever forced or asked to change her religion, which the young girl categorically denied. In the new video now doing the rounds, the girl also alleged that she was only compelled to do accounting work besides her regular academics which apparently led her to fall behind in her studies. In the new video, the unidentified person is also heard asking the girl if the school authorities had forbidden her from wearing the bindi or pottu to which the girl strongly replies no.

Meanwhile, the state BJP has now chosen to remain silent and its leaders have gone on radio silence not wishing to comment further on the matter. The BJP high command has also constituted a 5-member task committee to look into the veracity of the details in an attempt to save face in this regard. The district education department too has concluded in its investigation that the entire religious conversion narrative was found to be false, and that no such incident had ever taken place, and there were no reports of religious campaigns carried out by the school officials in the past.

There have been continuous developments as we speak; the residents of Michaelpatti have also submitted a memorandum to the district collector alleging that certain miscreants with the malicious intent of disturbing the religious harmony of the village have been trying to make political gains, and that no such committee with the backing of any religion-based parties or outfits shall be allowed to enter their village.

It has now become evident that the state BJP unit now stands exposed on the issue of faux forced religious conversion which had actually never taken place. Many citizens have expressed their opinion on social media saying the Hindu right-wing outfits in the state are trying to rake up an issue which is nonexistent, in an attempt to gain political mileage, like the ones which happened on a regular basis in Karnataka. The hashtag #ArrestAnnamalai (State BJP President) also began to trend on Twitter as netizens were clearly not amused by the antics of the party in the state.

Tamilnadu has been called the ‘Land of Periyar’ with reason and any such attempt to create a communal disharmony on the lines of religion to gain political mileage should strongly be dealt with an iron hand. This in fact should be seen as a lesson to all the fringe Hindu right-wing outfits in the state, that such protests will not hold good in a state like Tamilnadu which strictly governs its administration on the lines of Social Justice as imbibed in the Dravidian School of thought. Religion as such is a private affair but to make an issue out of it which never took place in the first instance deserves severe condemnation. And any such attempt is clearly not welcome in the state of Tamilnadu.

Cover Photo: TN BJP workers on strike to protest against the student's death by suicide. Photograph: Courtesy, BJP4TamilNadu on Twitter