Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], Oct. 8 : Thirteen-year-old Aradhana, who was observing a 'chaturmas' fast according to Jain traditions, died under suspicious circumstances after allegedly observing the fast for 68 days.
The incident has sent shock waves across the city, with child rights activists demanding an inquiry and action against those responsible for Aradhana - a student of Saint Francis, and resident of Pot Bazaar area in Secunderabad.
Balala Hakkula Sangham president Achuta Rao alleged that the girl's parents had forced her to undergo the fast to bring luck to the family as her father Laxmi Chand had suffered losses in his jewellery business.
"Her parents Laxmi Chand and Manshi and other community members forced the girl to undergo a fasting because their jewellery business is not going well and now they are saying their jewellery business is good because of her fast," alleged Rao.
Refuting Rao's allegations Laxmi Chand, the girl's father, said "No father wants her daughter to die. She had performed this ritual earlier too, but her body reacted differently this time." "She had observed a fast for 34 days last year, and it was her decision to fast for 68 days.
This was not sometime done in the hidden. This was her personal devotion and we did not force her to do so. If we had forced her to do this we would have not done in front of the whole world, but silently at our home.
This was done in front of everyone," Chand added. However, Upadaya Ravindra Muni, Jain religious leader, said, "It was an accident, as her body was fine.
She wilfully attempted to complete the penance." As per reports in the local media, the girl died October 2.