KOCHI: Seventeen years ago, Devika’s birth brought a smile to Shalan and Molly of Athani, who were toiling hard to make ends meet. She brought solace to the couple in their misery, loneliness and suffering. And in the thick of night on Wednesday, all their hopes were reduced to ashes when a youth burnt her to death in their single-room house. Shalan, who suffered burn injuries, was admitted to a hospital.
“She was an obedient child. Her alleged lover is a distant relative of her mother and the neighbours do not know much about him,” said Shynesh, a local resident. Krishnan, a neighbour who rushed to the spot and doused the fire, said Devika was brilliant. “My daughter is also studying in the same school and she always had a good opinion of Devika’s character,” he added.
“She was very bright. It is a big loss. Had she shared her despair with us, we could have saved her,” said V Nalinakumari, principal of Govt. Girls HSS, Ernakulam, where Devika studied. “There are many facilities, including counselling, to address the issues of students. She did not share her problems with the class teacher and even friends,” she added. Radhika, her class teacher, broke down on hearing about the tragic incident.
Teachers had high hopes on her as they expected a good result from her in the upcoming higher secondary examinations. In fact, she had secured 94 per cent marks in SSLC examinations and had more than 80 per cent in the Plus-I exams. The school had secured 86 per cent pass percentage in the last higher secondary examinations.
“She had a good character and was friendly to all,” said one of the students, who came to Devika’s house to pay their last respects. The school authorities have announced a holiday on Friday to mourn her death. “We are planning to conduct counselling to enable students to open their minds to parents and teachers on the next working day,” said Nalinakumari.
School PTA president Shibu P Chacko said Devika’s death was a loss to the school as she was one of the brightest students. Her younger sister is a Class V student in the same school.