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Family shattered after untimely loss

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, March 24, 2014

RAJESHNI Deo Sharma did something unusual about two weeks before her death.

She went to visit her parents at Toko in Tavua sometime in October 2009 and gave them her photos.

Her parents were surprised and did not sense that anything bad would happen to their daughter in the days ahead.

Although she may have been facing some problems in her life, her parents say she did not tell them anything, even during that visit.

It was November 3, 2009, when her mother Uma Devi Sharma, 67, returned home from a funeral gathering in the neighbourhood.

Mrs Sharma, who lost her right arm in a road accident on December 20, 1971, said she suddenly felt uneasy and began crying without any reason.

"I don't know what it was but I just felt that something was not right. I felt that something was wrong, I was just feeling bad," she said.

She went to the Tavua Hospital with her eldest daughter Rakeshni Sharma for a check-up on November 4, 2009 - still feeling uneasy - when she got the bad news.

On the front page of the November 5, 2009, edition, The Fiji Times reported about Rajeshni's murder in her home in Suva.

While Rajeshni was not supporting her parents financially, her death did have an effect on their lives psychologically.

For the first time, Mrs Sharma has revealed to this newspaper her daughter's life, the days prior to her death, her marriage, her affair and her children.

Rajeshni was born on July 10, 1975, and was the second eldest in a family of three girls and one boy.

She attended Form Four at Tavua College and did her Form Five and Form Six studies at Ba Sangam College before attending USP.

Mrs Sharma said Rajeshni opened her kindergarten at the junction of Howell Rd and Rewa St in Suva.

Rajeshni later married a taxidriver and had two children, one of whom is now in Class Seven while the other is 15 and with mental health problems.

"After separating from her husband, Rajeshni got involved with another man but she was still in good terms with her husband despite the separation," she said.

"She came home about two weeks before her death and the man who was charged with her murder was with her.

"My husband (Muni Deo Sharma) told her if she had to come home the next time, then she should come with the man she had married and not someone else.

"We had killed a rooster and after having their meal, Rajeshni left with the man she was allegedly involved with.

"But before leaving, she gave us her photos. I don't know why she gave the photos but maybe she had sensed something too. We were surprised."

Mrs Sharma said she went to Tavua Hospital on November 4, 2009, with Rakeshni when police officers went to their home in Toko. She was returning from the hospital and was on her way to the bus stand when officers stopped her outside Tavua Police Station.

"The police officers asked if we heard anything and I told them that I haven't and asked them what was it.

"I told them that I have high blood pressure and was just returning from the hospital.

"The policemen told me to come and rest for a while in the police station. I started panicking and was thinking what had happened."

Mrs Sharma said the police officers told her to compose herself and not to cry after hearing what they would tell her.

"They told me that Rajeshni was murdered. I was shocked as I didn't ever think that anything like that will happen to her.

"My husband had gone fishing and we desperately tried to contact him but calls to his mobile phone were diverted.

"We somehow contacted the fishing boat owner but there was no way in which the bad news could be relayed to my husband. He only learnt about it when he returned home from the fishing trip."

Mrs Sharma said her husband was also shocked when he learnt that Rajeshni had been murdered and her alleged killer had yet to be arrested.

"There were marks on her throat, like wire marks or something. She was strangled to death and I know that she suffered in the last few moments of her life. Her body was swollen too."

She said Rajeshni's children are living with their uncle as their father died six months after Rajeshni's death.

"It was about two weeks after Rajeshni's body was found that someone was charged for her alleged murder. We were shocked to know it was the same man who came home with her a few weeks earlier."

Mrs Sharma said Rajeshni's financial situation was good and she was running her own kindergarten when she was murdered.

"Rajeshni was not supporting us and the only thing she gave me were gifts on Mother's Day. She never gave anything to her father, not even on Father's Day.

"Although she was not supporting us financially, her death really changed things for us because we are her parents.

"We were already going through enough in our lives and the bad news about her death just worsened our situation psychologically."

Mrs Sharma did not deny that Rajeshni had an affair with her alleged killer and they were also suspicions she was involved with someone else too.

"We know that the man who came with her about two weeks before her death was charged with her alleged murder. We heard that he has fled to India.

"The fact that no one has been punished for Rajeshni's death has brought more pain on us and it's really hard for us when we think about it.

"I don't know the real reason she was killed but it could have been money because she was financially stable."

Rakeshni Sharma said it was also quite hard for her when police officers told them Rajeshni had been murdered.

"She was my sister and learning about her murder was quite a shock for me," she said. On page three of November 10, 2009 edition, this newspaper reported that money was the motive for the kindergarten teacher's murder.

The murder suspect's court appearance was reported by this newspaper on November 17, 2009 and on April 15, 2011, it was reported the suspect had fled to India.

A report in this newspaper on August 26, 2011 stated the High Court in Suva had issued another bench warrant for the murder suspect's arrest.

Mrs Sharma said the family was hopeful and praying that the suspect would be caught one day.

She said as parents, it was hard for them to accept the fact that Rajeshni's killer had yet to be punished for his crime.

"Although she never told us anything about her personal life, we know she went through a lot and all those problems resulted in her murder.

"We all know that God is out there somewhere watching and whoever killed my daughter will be punished by Him one day or the other.

"Even though Rajeshni was not helping us financially, she was our daughter and we miss her. Our life has been affected because of her death and we pray to God that her soul rests in peace."

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