The Andhra Pradesh lokayukta on Thursday sought a report from the Hyderabad police on the action taken in the case of 13-year-old Jain girl Aradhana Samdariya, who died after a 68-day ritualistic fast .
Lokayukta justice B Subhashan Reddy admitted a petition filed by AP Child Rights Association, which had brought to light the death of Aradhana, daughter of a city-based jewellery merchant.
The girl died in the early hours of October 3 after completing the fast under Jain ritual ‘tapasya’ . The incident triggered a nationwide uproar and a debate on the culpability of her parents — Lakshmichand Samdariya and Manisha — in forcing their daughter to fast in the name of religion.
Association president Anuradha Rao petitioned that though the Secunderabad market police had registered an FIR against the parents under Section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), no arrests had been made so far.
“Forcing a minor girl to fast in the name of ‘tapasya’, amounts to murder. So, a case has to be registered against the parents under Section 302 of the IPC,” Rao argued.
Justice Reddy called for a report from the deputy superintendent of police (Secunderabad) before October 24 on what action was taken against the parents.
Meanwhile, the Jain community in Hyderabad represented to the police not to proceed further with the case against Aradhana’s parents, as it was nothing but infringing upon the fundamental right of the community to practise their religion.
In a letter to police commissioner M Mahender Reddy, Jain Seva Sangh leaders Ashok Jain and Vinod Kumar Kimti Jain said fasting was very common in their religion and observing ‘tapasya’ was a fundamental right of every Jain, irrespective of the age. They reiterated that Aradhana had taken up fasting on her own accord and there was no pressure whatsoever was on her.
“She was very healthy even after completion of 68 days of fasting,” the submission claimed.
They accused the NGOs of tarnishing the image of Jains and questioning their traditions in the name of defending child rights. “They have no right to interfere in the rituals of our religion,” it added.