Teenage swimming champ commits suicide in Ghaziabad home
A teenage swimming champion allegedly committed suicide in her house in Ghaziabad early on Monday, using a stole to hang herself as her younger sister slept in the same room.
Just 16 and the reigning 50-metre breast stroke champion of the CBSE National Games, Saira Sirohi was training to represent India in the Olympics. Her prodigious talent came to the fore at the age of eight after she swam non-stop for 15 hours and covered a distance of 38 km in her school's swimming pool.
But of late, Saira was weighed down by worries about her academics, her family and coach told TOI on Monday. But except concern about the half-yearly exams she had missed and was currently appearing for, there was nothing unusual about her recent behaviour. Her sister said when she went to sleep, Saira was playing a game on her cellphone.
"She had her glass of milk before retiring to her room. Before that, she was chatting freely with us," said a shaken Jaideep Sirohi, her father. Saira studied humanities in Class XI of a reputable private school in Ghaziabad and had won several medals for her school and Uttar Pradesh at national tournaments. No suicide note was found, police said.
Saira lived with her parents and 11-year-old sister in a first-floor house in Govindpuram. Her father said she fastened the stole to a grille above the door of her room and had placed her school bag near the door and climbed on it to tie the knot and hang herself. Jaideep (52), a former constable with UP police, had taken voluntary retirement two years ago to help her daughter realise her dream of representing India in the Olympics. He was sleeping in an adjacent room with his wife Suman (45) when Saira killed herself.
"At 1.30 am, my younger daughter started crying loudly. I thought someone had entered the house and rushed to their room. But I couldn't open the door easily though it had not been bolted from inside. When I managed to push it open, I found Saira had hanged herself from the grille above the door. I brought her down and put her on the bed but she was cold and stiff," Jaideep said.
Police said they were informed around 5 am on Monday. "Saira was playing a game on her phone. She told she will study for an hour or so and then sleep," her sister said. "I felt thirsty in the middle of the night and woke up.
That's when I found Saira hanging against the door. I began shouting for my father and mother. She had shown no sign of being under stress and had chatted freely with my aunt who visited our house last night," the 11-year-old added.
Family members told TOI Saira had missed some papers in her half-yearly exam in November as she was participating in a championship. "She had been telling me she won't come for training for more than a month because she was afraid her school would fail her in her exams," her coach Raju Chaudhary said. "She said if she failed, she would be rusticated. She had appeared in three papers which she had missed owing to her championships. She was scheduled to appear in the fourth paper on Monday. There was nothing amiss about her behaviour," Chaudhary added. Saira trained at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi under her Chaudhary.
Jyoti Gupta, the principal of Saira's school, said they had put no pressure on the girl. "She was studying in our school since Class 5. She would miss exams every now and then. We have her full liberty to choose the date and time on which she wished to appear in the papers she missed. A teacher and other staff members would be on standby to help her appear in these papers. We always prepared diluted question papers for her. She had finished appearing in three back papers on January 21. She had also appeared in an assessment of speaking and listening test on Saturday which was for all students of Class XI. On Monday, she was to appear in a unit test that was scheduled for the entire school," Gupta said.
Police have not been registered a case yet. "As per the autopsy report, death was caused by strangulation due to hanging. The ligature mark on the neck bore a V-shape. The mobile phone of the deceased girl has not been handed over to police yet. Further investigations are under way," said Ajaypal, SP (City), Ghaziabad.