Amid nationwide criticism over the death of a 13-year-old Jain girl in Hyderabad, who had been fasting for 68 days as part of a religious ritual, Jain leaders have told social and child right activists to stop interfering in their religious practices.
According to Hindustan Times, top Jain spiritual leaders and elders held a meeting at a community hall in Koti to discuss teenager Aradhana Samdaria’s death on October 3 that triggered a nationwide debate over the community’s rigorous religious practices.
Jain guru Mangilal Bhandari said, “Nobody has a right to interfere in our fundamental rights to practise our religion. The filing of cases against the parents of Aradhana amounts to interfering in the spiritual matters of the community.”
He said, “She even went to school regularly for 41 days of her fast and did puja regularly. She completed the 68-day tapasya without problem. It was only later that she collapsed and died, more than 24 hours after she completed her penance.”
On Oct 7th, Aradhana, a class 8 student, was admitted to the hospital two days after completing her fast where she died of cardiac arrest. The girl’s parents were booked on Sunday. However, police are yet to take action after the Andhra Pradesh Child Rights Association lodged a complaint last Friday against the parents.
Child rights activist P Achyuta Rao told Hindustan Times, “They should be charged with murder. They made their child die by forcing her into fasting. This is not the issue of a religious ritual, but the right to life of a child.”