The doctor guilty of murder
IT was early November 1997 when a villager was alerted to something unusual in the forest.
He saw a spot dug up a bit some distance from the Queens Rd at Semo in Sigatoka.
The villager was startled when he saw the skeletons of an adult and a child.
Police were alerted and treating the case as murder, they started sifting through their records of missing people reports.
During their checks around the country, officers at Lautoka Police Station came across a report of a missing woman and her five-month-old daughter.
The report had been lodged in early October by Dr Rajeshwar Sharma, 33, who worked at the Lautoka Hospital.
He had reported that his de facto wife and daughter were missing.
Since all evidence was pointing towards the doctor, police officers went to his house in early November to arrest him.
A police officer who was in the team told me then that Sharma told the officers that he was waiting for them for one month to arrest him.
On November 12, 1997, we reported that Sharma had appeared in the Lautoka Magistrates Court the day earlier charged with two counts of murder. He was charged with the murders of his de facto wife Suman Lata and daughter Rakshita Trishila Sharma.
After the doctor’s first appearance in court, he was remanded in custody awaiting trial for the two charges of murder.
The case had created a lot of interest as a well-known doctor based at a Government hospital was facing murder charges.
Being based in Lautoka then as a journalist, I remember covering the case and how eagerly people were waiting for the trial to start in the High Court.
They wanted to sit down in court during the trial and listen to what transpired that led the doctor to do what he did.
However, they did not get this opportunity as Sharma opted to plead guilty to the charge of murder and an amended charge of manslaughter.
Sharma admitted in court murdering his 30-year-old wife and manslaughter of the baby, and he was jailed for life by the High Court for committing the offences.
On June 5, 1998, we reported on the details of the case, including what transpired that led the doctor to do what he did.
The court was told that Sharma married a doctor in 1989 and they had a child but the marriage lasted only five years after Sharma began an extramarital affair with Lata.
He separated from his wife in November 1995 and lived in a de facto relationship with Lata and Rakshita was born out of this relationship in May 1997.
But Sharma’s fairytale romance did not last as persistent domestic arguments dominated their lives from the first week of living together.
Sharma had said that all was not well between him and Lata.
On October 3, 1997, the couple argued the whole day and the argument continued well into the night.
While they were watching television about 9pm, Rakshita, who was in a baby swing, began to cry and Sharma asked Lata to comfort the baby but she swore at him.
Lata took Rakshita from the swing and was holding her when Sharma punched her on the jaw, resulting in her falling.
Rakshita slipped from Lata’s hands, hit the baby swing and fell on the floor.
Sharma then strangled Lata to death and he checked on Rakshita and found that she was not breathing.
He tried to save the baby by mouth to mouth resuscitation and heart massage but Rakshita did not respond.
Sharma then wrapped Rakshita’s body in a shawl and put her in a sack and also put Lata’s body in a sack. He loaded the bodies and a spade in his car and headed towards Suva.
He picked a spot at Semo about 4:30am on October 4, 1997 and buried Lata and Rakshita’s bodies.
After burying the bodies, he lodged a report at Lautoka Police Station that his wife and daughter were missing, and he carried on with his everyday life as a doctor.
The then secretary of Lautoka Hospital, Salote Waqanisau had described Sharma as one of the best doctors in the medical unit, saying he was caring towards his patients.
“He was a quiet person, very intelligent and never said no to anything he was asked to do. Sharma was a loner, an independent person who always had time for patients even if he was on day off. He was one of the best doctors we had,” she had told me then.
Sharma was given the mandatory life sentence for murder and six years for manslaughter, with the court ordering that the sentences be served concurrently.
Prominent lawyer and a former public prosecutor, Babu Indrashekar Singh was hired by Sharma to represent him in the High Court.
But Sharma changed his mind and pleaded guilty to murder and the amended charge of manslaughter.
Mr Singh told The Fiji Times that no one normally pleads guilty in a homicide case.
“This was a rare situation where I had been given clear instructions by my client to plead guilty for the murder of his de facto wife and the manslaughter of the baby,” he said.
“This was very unusual and some lawyers got angry on me, saying why I didn’t fight the case as it was a norm to defend every murder case.
“But my client had instructed me to tell the court that he will plead guilty. He was ready for the consequences of pleading guilty.”
Mr Singh said his client was a brilliant doctor who had a bright future in the medical field, with high chances of either being a consultant or specialist.
“Sadly he ended up in this situation because of problems with his de facto wife and being a trained martial artist, he was ready to face the consequences of his actions.
“It was like a bit of horror for some lawyers at that time when my client pleaded guilty to murder and manslaughter.
“He was prepared for a lengthy term in prison. He had prepared himself mentally for the life sentence that was meted out to him.
“I understand that his brilliance in the medical field has been reflected in the services he has provided in Fiji’s prisons as a ‘doctor’.”
Mr Singh, who has handled numerous murder cases as a prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecutions office and as a lawyer, said Sharma’s case was a unique one for him too.
He had told me after Sharma’s sentencing on June 4, 1998 that Sharma insisted on pleading guilty to the charges despite his suggestions for him to fight the case.
“My client had committed the crime and he wanted to be dealt with by the court so that he could serve his time and get over with it,” said Mr Singh.
Source : Fijitimes.Com 01/16/2016