Hyderabad: After 13-year-old girl fasts to death, cops probe if she was forced

The family claimed that Aradhana showed an interest in becoming a nun.

Hyderabad: A Class XIII student, Aradhana, 13, died after fasting for 68 days, on Monday. She was fasting as part of Chaturmas, considered holy by Jains.

The girl’s grandfather, Manekchand Samdariya, said, “Aradhana ended her 68-day fast on October 2. The next day, she was given liquid food. But her health showed signs of deteriorating. She was kept on intravenous glucose at home. On October 3 midnight she started sweating and we rushed her to a hospital where doctors tried to resuscitate her but to no avail.

“She was declared brought dead.” The family had conducted a function after Aradhana’s fast ended. An advertisement was given in a vernacular daily hailing Aradhana, a student of St Francis, as a “Bal Tapasvi”.

It also mentioned the names of businessmen and religious leaders from the community. Excise minister Padma Rao attended the function as chief guest.

Cops to probe fast was forced

Aradhana’s grandfather Manekchand Samdariya said, “This was not the first time Aradhana fasted. Last year, she fasted for 34 days and before that for eight days. After 34 days she assured us that she can go ahead.”

The Balala Hakkula Sangham has written to the Hyderabad police commissioner that Aradhana was forced to fast by her family and Jain elders. The NGO has also alleged that the jewellery business of Aradhana’s father Lakshmichand Samd-ariya was not doing well because of which, after suggestion by a Jain guru, he forced his daughter to fast to bring luck. Anuradha Rao of the NGO said, “It is the duty of society to condemn such practises.”

However, Aradhana's grandfather denied the allegations. “Aradhana showed an interest in becoming a nun. She was interested to fast for 68 days because there are 68 letters in the Navkar Maha-mantra. We did not force her to fast,” he said. Aradhana’s BP and glucose levels were not monitored during her fast. She was consuming only water.

Prasan Bhandari, former president of Shri Jain Seva Sangh, said, “Children of Arad-hana’s age do fast but for not more than eight days.” Shri Rajasthan Jain Swetambar Murti-pujak Sangh trustee Prakash Luniya said, “Fasting is sacred to us Jains, but no one is forced. She wanted to fast and was not stopped.”

Market police station inspector M. Mattaiah said they are looking into the facts to check if the girl was forced into fasting. If that turns out to be true, then a police case will be registered.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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