Lavanya’s suicide, forced Conversions & CM Stalin's social justice platform in Tamil Nadu


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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has formed a social justice platform named All India Federation for Social Justice. The objective of the platform, according to him, is to create a roadmap to take forward the battle for social justice in India. Surprisingly, he launched the platform after one of the forced conversion to Christianity cases came to light in the State. In this case, a minor girl named Lavanya, who committed suicide, alleged before her death that the Church institution abused her & her parents because of her non-Christian faith. 

Lavanya's forced conversion case

Lavanya was 17-year-old girl who was staying in a boarding house called St Michael's Girls' Home in Thanjavur. On 9th January, she was admitted to the hospital after she started vomiting and complained of stomach ache. After her death, her video came to light, recorded when she was admitted to the hospital two days before her death. In the 44-second video, Lavanya can be heard saying that two years ago, a woman called Raquel Mary had asked her to convert to Christianity, which she and her parents refused. She further confessed to being constantly scolded and also made to clean all the rooms in the hostel by the hostel warden. It is believed she consumed pesticide in an attempt to end her life after getting disturbed by these incidents. The girl succumbed after failing to respond to treatment on 19 January.

The girl can be heard saying in the video – "They asked my parents even in front of me once, 'shall I convert your daughter to Christianity, get her education?'" She later names a nun named Rachel Mary, as her alleged harasser.

Does CM M. K. Stalin fail to give justice to Lavanya?

As per The News Minute report, the parents filed an FIR on 15 January and on 16 January, Lavanya's last declaration was recorded on video by the Judicial Magistrate. After experiencing the suspicious way of investigation, Lavanya's father had filed the petition in the Madras High Court, saying that they have lost faith in the investigation by Thanjavur Police and demanded an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or a similar investigating agency. Lavanya's parents said that they do not trust the probe of Tamil Nadu Police and want CBI to investigate the matter. The family alleged that the Tamil Nadu Police is ignoring the religious conversion part and only focusing on harassment by the nuns. Lavanya's parents continued to maintain that the mistreatment was because Lavanya had refused to convert to Christianity. In the plea, Muruganantham, the girl's father, who submitted that Thanjavur SP had stated that there was no complaint of religious conversion, said that the investigation's credibility was at stake. The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court may have observed the same observations of the victim's father and ordered a CBI probe into the suicide of Lavanya. This order raised the question on CM M. K. Stalin & his administration. 

Does M. K. Stalin appease Christians in Tamil Nadu?

There are several allegations against M. K. Stalin regarding the appeasement of Christians in Tamil Nadu. Although he called himself an atheist, people have alleged that CM Stalin appeased Christians for vote bank politics. Several controversies have been reported since he became CM of the State. Following are some of them. Appointment of Christian Father Mariasusai as a member of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission - Mariasusai is the Rector of Janodaya Salesian College at The Retreat, Yercaud, and is a Christian priest of the Salesian order. Father Mariasusai has an extremely controversial past as he allegedly had a close relationship with recently deceased 'Urban Naxal' and fellow Christian priest Stanislaus Lourduswamy, aka Stan Swamy. In fact, in honour of terror suspect Stan Swamy, who died lately, the Retreat Don Bosco Yercaud launched a campaign and gave "relief materials."

Appointment of Dindigual Leoni as the head of the Tamil Nadu Textbook & Educational Services Corporation - Chief Minister Stalin appointed Dindigual Leoni as the head of the Tamil Nadu Textbook & Educational Services Corporation. Leoni, too, a Christian and has been quite vocal about bringing about changes in the textbooks which was only recently revised to raise its standards to that of NCERT textbooks.       

Christian priest praises DMK- Father George Ponniah, a Catholic priest from Kanyakumari, said that M. K. Stalin's DMK won the Assembly Elections because of a signal from church leaders and their campaign among Christians. Father Ponniah also pointed out how a DMK candidate in Kanyakumari lost because he had dissuaded Christian priests from campaigning for him. 

The logo changed on the garbage collection trucks to show Christian cross- Another piece of appeasement came to light in Chennai. Residents of Chennai have reported that the Greater Chennai Corporation garbage collection trucks have changed their logo to show a Christian Cross. Chennai netizens expressed their outrage against rapid developments in Tamil Nadu brazenly Christianising all arms of Government including academics.

Permission from Pope to file case against Christian nuns & pastors- A DMK Minister's Christian daughter-in-law, Mercy Senthil Kumar, in a speech commemorating the death of suspected Maoist leader Father Stan Swamy said, a law should be made where permission from Vatican Pope should be mandatorily sought before filing any criminal case against Christian Nuns and Pastors.

Use of footwear by Christian doctor inside temple premises- A Christian doctor working in the health department in Vellore insisted on wearing sandals inside a Temple during a Corona vaccination camp drive held in Temple premises. When the Hindu Munnani activists and other local residents protested, she tried to brazen it out by saying there is no board asking for the removal of footwear within the Temple. Even after several complaints, the administration has not taken any action against the doctor.

Stalin said his Government was formed due to Christians- Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin expressed his gratitude to Christians for electing DMK to power. Inaugurating the 75th anniversary of the Church of South India, he said that his Government was formed because of Christians. He said, "The Government in power in Tamil Nadu was "created / formed" by you".

I feel disgusted to listen to Hindu religious stories", says lady in the presence of CM MK Stalin at Christmas celebrations- The DMK held a function in the run up to Christmas at Santhome near Mylapore in Chennai. The event, presided by DMK chief MK Stalin, saw the participation of several party functionaries, DMK MLAs and MPs and Christian pastors from different denominations.

In the event, Kalaiarasi Natarajan, DMK supporter, said, "Never use the word 'Hindu'. It is because you use the term 'Hindu' that it becomes our weakness. Never use that henceforth. There is no such thing as 'Hindu' religion...Nowadays, when you hear the word 'Hindu', the whole body burns. I feel disgusted to listen to Hindu religious stories", Kalaiarasi Natarajan said in the presence of DMK chief M.K. Stalin. She also goes on to hail Christian missionaries like G.U. Pope and Bishop Caldwell while rubbing off the greatest Tamil scholar 'Tamil Thatha' U. Ve. Swaminatha Iyer. According to the media reports, the Christian leaders along with the DMK chief present at the event smiled and even clapped their hands for Kalaiarasi's speech against Hindus.

CM M.K. Stalin studied in Madras Christian College School and not greeted on Hindu festivals as per a following tweet.

Questions on CM Stalin's social justice platform

Such behavior of M.K. Stalin raised questions about his social justice platform. Does this platform launch to appease specific communities for vote bank politics? Moreover, CM M. K. Stalin wrote to 37 non-Bhartiya Janata Party leaders cutting across the regional and political spectrum, inviting them to nominate their party representatives to the platform. The letter has been sent to Sonia Gandhi, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, D Raja, Sitaram Yechury, N Chandrababu Naidu, Arvind Kejriwal, Mehboobha Mufti, K Chandrashekar Rao, Uddhav Thackeray and Akhilesh Yadav, among others.

As a Chief Minister of any State, it is the responsibility of that person to protect every citizen of India residing in the respective State, whether he/she belongs to any political party or community. So what is the intention of CM M. K. Stalin to form a platform under the goody name of social justice by ignoring the representatives from India's current biggest national political party, although it has less presence in Tamil Nadu? And why does he launch such a platform immediately after Lavanya's case of forced conversion transferred to CBI for the investigation by Madras HC? If High Court & victims does not have faith on CM Stalin’s administration, then what is the meaning to create platform for social justice? Before launching a national level platform for social justice, CM Stalin first should give justice to Tamil Nadu people and should gain some faith of all communities rather than some specific communities. 

 

References:

Daily Hunt News, The Commune News, Kreately News, starsunfolded, FirstPost, The News Minute, Indian Express

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