Hailed as a Bal Tapasvi till the other day, now Aradhana is a story that went horribly wrong. Aradhana Samdariya was a 13-year-old Jain girl who fasted for 68 days as a religious ritual. Throughout that long period, all the child consumed was boiled water. 

A day after she broke that fast, she collapsed and was rushed to KIMS, Hyderabad. Doctors there diagnosed a massive cardiac arrest and declared her dead. The doctors noted that she died before she arrived at the hospital. The girl was soon cremated, and the local Jain community seemed to be hailing her death as a noble one. 

Later, when the news of the death spread, Balala Hakkula Sangham, a child rights organisation, filed a petition demanding that murder charges be placed against the parents and through investigation be conducted. The police filed a case against the parents for culpable homicide and under Section 75 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 for willful neglect of a child.

That was six months ago. Now the cops admit that they have no evidence to prosecute anyone. Speaking to the Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad police said - "We cannot establish the cause of death because there is no scope for exhumation. The doctor gave a medical report suggesting it was due to cardiac arrest."

"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 parents, for their part, have been proclaiming their innocence, complete with tears in their eyes when they recalled their daughter. Speaking to The News Minute, the father, Lakshmichand, said - 

"I have never forced her to do anything. We allowed her to take the fast because she was healthy." 

It seems hard to believe that a small child can starve to death and everyone around her is pretending that this was either some routine incident or a small, unexpected, accident. There is an air of casualness, an acceptance perhaps fueled by religious fervour, that her death, while sad, is not horrific. 

Jain leaders have submitted documents to the police showing other children fasting the same. And in general, Jain leaders in the city want everything to be put under the carpet so they can go back to their normal rituals. And by claiming that there was no 'proof' of negligence, the police seem to going along with this bizarre situation. 

How is a 13-year-old even capable of making a decision by herself? A 13-year-old in India cannot vote, cannot buy anything serious, cannot enter into any contracts or be married. In fact, making a 13-year-old work in your factory is a crime. And whatever little freedoms a 13-year-old boy might have, a 13-year-old girl in the country has even less. 

But as per her father, the Jain community and the Hyderabad police, a 13-year-old can take the decision to starve herself to death, and no one else is to blame except (conveniently) the girl who has passed away. She is dead, and no one is to blame! 

The Balala Hakkula Sangham has accused the Jain community of forcing the Hyderabad police to bury the case. They say they will approach the CBI now.