Teen suicide: How a quaint village plunged into the vortex of religious conversion

Representative photo: The Federal

The imposing facade of the 100-year-old St. Archangel Michael’s Church at the heart of Michaelpatti belies the recent political churn that has thrown the otherwise sleepy village and its inhabitants into a tizzy.

Guarded by policemen, the lanes leading to Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School wear an eerie look. Fifteen-year-old Dhivya (name changed), a student of the school at Thanjavur district’s Michaelpatti, looks every bit perturbed. The recent events that have engulfed her school in a major controversy over alleged forcible religious conversion by the school have “turned life upside down” for Dhivya and other students like her.

Ever since one of her schoolmates, Lavanya, a 17-year-old student of Class 12, died by suicide last month, Dhivya says, things have been pretty rough for them. “We don’t know what exactly happened with her but it’s scary to come and go to school watched by so many policemen,” she tells The Federal. “She was after all one of us,” adds the 15-year-old, who says she didn’t know Lavanya personally and came to know about her only after the incident.

ABVP functionaries and state BJP members with Lavanya’s parents in Vadugapatti.
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