She lost parents to militancy; 15 yrs on, harassment drove her to suicide

Raksha Sharma Suicide

Raksha Sharma was barely 2 years old when militants in Doda, Jammu & Kashmir, killed her parents in 1997. She grew up in an orphanage in Jammu, and wanted to become an engineer.

On Tuesday, Raksha hanged herself in her hostel room in Punjab's Jalandhar district after two youths posted an obscene illustration and crude remarks about her on Facebook.

Police said the men would humiliate her for having lived in an orphanage, threatened to disfigure her face with acid, and gave her mobile phone number to others who harassed her constantly.

"She was so happy that she had got admission to Mehar Chand Polytechnic, one of the best in Punjab," said 17-year-old Snehlata, the youngest of Raksha's six siblings. Raksha was a second-semester student of the diploma course in computer engineering. Hostel residents and college authorities described her as a cheerful, smiling girl.

"Raksha, me and Bhawna, our eldest sister, were brought to an ashram run by SOS Children's Villages in Jammu by our maternal uncle Hari Kishan after militants killed our parents in 1997," Snehlata said. "Our father was a small farmer. The militants suspected he was a police informer."

Rakesh Jinsi, national director of SOS Children's Villages, expressed shock and surprise at Raksha's suicide. "She could have spoken to her sisters or to us... She had called her friends at the ashram on August 14, and told them she would be coming to Jammu soon," Jinsi said.

In her suicide note, Raksha accused two men Deepak Saini and Lovepreet of pushing her to death. Her cell phone was found below her hanging body. One of her classmates who declined to be identified said Raksha had been irregular in class and seemed upset, but had not told her anything.

Polytechnic principal Jagroop Singh said Raksha had skipped her second semester exams in May-June, and had not been attending classes.

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