Feature

3-Year-Old Shaniya Still Cries Out For Mother, Almost A Year After Her Murder

Sambha Wati and Shaniya witnessed the horror. And before any harm could come to the child, the elderly woman managed to run out of the house with her.
05 Aug 2020 12:19
3-Year-Old Shaniya Still Cries Out For Mother, Almost A Year After Her Murder
Narendra Prasad (left) with his wife, Sambha Wati, and their grandchildren at Wainikoro, Labasa, last year. INSET: Saleshni Devi Pinky

Shaniya Lal was only two years old when she witnessed her mother being hacked to death.

It was her father, Yogesh Rohit Lal, who mercilessly slaughtered her mother, Saleshni Devi.

It’s almost a year after the brutal killing. The incident had left the Navoalevu, Wainikoro, community in a state of shock.

“Shaniya walks around the house and keeps calling out for her mother,” said Sambha Wati, 68, Saleshni’s mother in a shaky voice.

“I told her mummy is in heaven.”

Sambha Wati and Shaniya witnessed the horror. And before any harm could come to the child, the elderly woman managed to run out of the house with her.

She warded off her (Shaniya) father and as a result, sustained injuries. And while the physical injuries had healed, the scars she carried in her heart would stay forever.

“Shaniya wakes up crying at night as well,” Ms Wati said.

Saleshni’s father, Narendra Prasad, 68, said they were preparing for the one-year prayer which they had planned for August 14 and 15.

His sorrow over the loss of his daughter will not go away but right now his biggest priority is his granddaughter.

Mr Prasad said the two older children had been taken by their brother’s siblings and the little girl had been left in their care.

He said in his age and ailing health, he hoped to be able to provide for the child.

“A year before Pinky’s (Saleshni) murder, my son Sachin committed suicide.

“I have lost two children in over the span of two years,” Mr Prasad said.

Yogesh Rohit Lal outside the Magistrates Court in Labasa. Photo: Shalveen Chand

Yogesh Rohit Lal outside the Magistrates Court in Labasa. Photo: Shalveen Chand

The dreadful day

On August 21, 2019, Yogesh Rohit Lal got off the last bus into Wainikoro, in front of the driveway leading to where Saleshni had been.

The couple had been separated for over two months. Saleshni and the three children had been staying at her parents’ place.

Mr Prasad heard the bus and went out to look. He went halfway down the driveway but did not see anyone.

Lal had taken a short cut and made it to the house.

It was around 7 pm.

Mr Prasad said on his way back, he saw Lal standing in front of the house with a knife.

Mr Prasad said he recalled how Lal had switched off the power to the house from the meter box.

“He called Pinky and she came out. He struck her with the knife he was carrying,” he said.

“I saw my daughter run into the house, he followed her.”

Inside the house, Sambha Wati watched as Lal continuously struck Saleshni.

Her description of the incident when she spoke to the Fiji Sun was that her daughter was chopped up like meat.

Lal surrendered himself to Police and pleaded guilty to the crime.

The High Court sentenced Lal to life imprisonment.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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