NCPCR member submits report to TN Raj Bhavan, backs Gov Ravi’s allegation of two-finger test on Dikshithar girls

On Monday, NCPCR member RG Anand submitted a preliminary report to the Governor at Raj Bhavan instead of submitting it to Tamil Nadu government.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published May 30, 2023 | 7:23 PM Updated May 30, 2023 | 7:23 PM

NCPCR Member RG Anand interviewed Dikshithars, doctors, police officiers, and the girls at Chidambaram. (Supplied)

Two minor girls from the Chidambaram Dikshithar community in Tamil Nadu were subjected to the banned two-finger test, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said.

The NCPCR, which is under administrative control of the Union government, made the revelation in a preliminary probe report prepared by a commission member, RG Anand.

The commission probed the alleged child marriages conducted in the community and charges of the state government subjecting child brides to virginity tests.

The report could further fuel the ongoing spat between the MK Stalin-led DMK government and the Raj Bhavan.

On Monday, 29 May, Anand handed over the report to Governor RN Ravi, who had initially made the charges of the two-finger test — and also sought to deny the state’s charge of underage marriages.

It may be noted, however, that the state government, the DGP of police, and the doctors at the hospital concerned have strongly refuted Ravi’s charge about the two-finger test.

Related: Fresh spat between Governor and DMK in Tamil Nadu

The Governor’s charges

In an interview with an English newspaper, the Governor had alleged that officials of the state Social Welfare Department lodged eight false complaints of child marriages against the Podhu Dikshithars of the Sri Sabhanayakar (Natarajar) Temple at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district.

“There was no such marriage,” the newspaper quoted the Governor as saying on 4 May.

Ravi also stated that the parents were arrested and put in prison and their daughters — who were studying in Class VI and VII — were forcibly taken to hospitals and made to undergo the “two-finger test” — or the virginity test with no scientific backing.

Subsequently, some of them attempted suicide, he contended.

Despite the vehement denials by the state administration, the police, and the concerned doctors, the NCPCR took a suo motu case and the panel’s chairperson, Priyank Kanoongo, assigned Anand to probe the matter.

Anand interviewed Dikshithars, doctors, police officers, and the minor girls at Chidambaram.

It is believed that Lord Nataraja (Shiva) brought the Dikshitars, a community of Vedic Shaiva Brahmin servitors, from Mount Kailash 3,000 years ago. They hold the sole right to govern the temple and perform rituals.

Related: NCPCR backs TN Governor as doctors, cops deny two-finger test

Governor’s allegation true: NCPCR report

“Based on the girls’ statements, we found that the two-finger tests have been performed on them. Also, in the medical report, it is mentioned that ‘the hymen was intact’. We have also attached the statements of the girls and medical reports in the six-page preliminary report,” Anand told South First.

He further said that medical tests are not necessary in child-marriage cases.

“But here, the minor girls were forced to undergo medical examinations and also they were unnecessarily taken into custody due to their political agenda.”

“We intend to safeguard the children as envisaged in the Constitution and no mechanism should harm them. We will not interfere in the political developments around the issue. The children are in trauma because of police investigations,” he claimed.

Related: Is Chidambaram Nataraja temple a hub of child marriages?

Why was the report submitted to the Governor?

When asked why the report was submitted to the Governor, Anand said the NCPCR has its framework and guidelines for conducting an inquiry.

“An entire community and law-and-order issues are involved. Since the allegations are against government officials, we submitted the preliminary report to the Governor, the executive head of the state, seeking his intervention so that no other child would be affected in the future,” he said.

“We cannot give the entire report to the Governor and have given only a six-page preliminary report. The Governor said that he will demand a report from the chief secretary and DGP, initiate necessary action within his jurisdiction, and would make efforts to prevent such incidents in the future,” he added.

Anand said a detailed report would be submitted to the NCPCR.

Related: What is two-finger test? Why has Supreme Court spoken about it?

Dikshithars refute child-marriage charge

Meanwhile, a set of photos claiming to be the minor Dhikshithar children in wedding costumes surfaced on social media, with several activists contending that it was evidence of child marriages being conducted at the temple in Chidambaram.

A photos of child marriage that is being circulated on social media (Supplied)

However, denying charges of child marriages, the Dikshithars questioned the veracity of the photographs.

Speaking to South First, a Dikshithar community member said the photos surfaced last week when news reports claimed that the children were subjected to the two-finger test.

“What is the source of these photos, and where and when were they clicked? Why is it being spread now? We have been targeted for some reason,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Earlier, reports, quoting Anand, said the children were not subjected to the virginity test. However, the commission member later said he was misquoted.

It was then reported that the girls were not subjected to the two-finger test, but that their private parts were touched without their consent.

The doctors have been maintaining that the girls were examined in a proper way, and in the presence of a woman police officer.

The Supreme Court banned the “unscientific, invasive” two-finger test on 31 October 2022. The Union Health Ministry issued Guidelines & Protocols: Medico-legal care for Survivors/Victims of Sexual Violence in 2014, which also prohibited the test.