The Hyderabad police have closed the case of Aradhana Samdariya for lack of evidence, almost five months after the 13-year old Jain girl died after 68 days of fasting that sparked national outrage.
“We have done thorough investigation. We have called for the report from the authorities of the hospital where Aradhana was brought dead. We also sought a second opinion from a team of doctors from the Government Gandhi Hospital, Secunderabad on what could have led to her death. And we could not find any evidence to prove that her parents had forced her to do tapasya,” Hyderabad North Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police B Sumathi told Hindustan Times.
The police told the child rights committee that if it had any objections on closure of the case, it could approach the court within a week. But the police’s decision has left the child rights committee fuming.
“This is atrocious. Instead of framing the charges against the parents under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC, the police had conspired with the Jain community and closed the case without proper investigation. We will continue the legal battle,” child rights committee honorary president P Achyuta Rao said.
The Secunderabad Market police conveyed the decision in a communication to Andhra Pradesh child rights committee on Saturday night. According to the letter, a report was submitted to the 10th additional chief metropolitan magistrate court, Secunderabad, stating that the case filed by the association was false, non-cognizable, mistake of fact, undetected and lacked evidence. “Hence, the action was dropped on February 28,” the letter said.
The Secunderabad-based teen died in the early hours of October 3 last year, less than three days after ending her 68-day fast under the ‘tapasya’ ritual practised by her community. She was declared “brought dead” at a private hospital and doctors said she had died of cardiac arrest, caused probably by an imbalance in salts.
On a complaint from the Child Rights Committee, the Secunderabad Market police registered an FIR on October 9 against Aradhana’s parents Lakshmichand Samdariya and Manisha, under Section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code (Culpable homicide not amounting to murder), besides Section 75 Juvenile Justice Act after the child rights committee highlighted the case.
Lakshmichand and Manisha, who went into hiding for a few weeks immediately after Aradhana’s death hit the national headlines, moved the Hyderabad high court on November 15 seeking anticipatory bail fearing arrest by the police. However, the court refused to grant them bail. But on November 15, acting on a quash petition by Jain Seva Sangh, the high court stayed the arrest of the girl’s parents while asking the cops to complete the investigation at the earliest.
October 3, 2016: Aradhana Samdariya, 13, dies less than three days after a 68-day fast in the name of “tapasya” as per the Jain ritual, at her Pot Market residence, Secunderabad. Doctors say she was brought dead
October 7: AP Child Rights Committee files complaint with Hyderabad Police Commissioner alleging that Aradhana was forced to fast under pressure from parents to overcome losses in their jewellery business
October 9: Secunderabad Market police registered FIR against parents under Section 304 (2) of IPC and Section 75 of Juvenile Justice Act
October 10: Parents go into hiding and Jain elders raise a hue and cry and allege that it’s infringement on their religious rights
November 5: Parents file anticipatory bail in the Hyderabad high court which is refused
November 15: Jain elders file quash petition in the high court, which grants stay on the arrest of parents but allows the police to go ahead with investigation
December 8: Mandatory 90-day period for filing charge sheet ends
February 28, 2017: Secunderabad police closes the case
March 26, 2017: Petitioner informed that the action against parents has been dropped for lack of evidence