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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Blue-eye jeers drive girl to death

Hyderabad, Dec. 7: In the exotic world of beauty parades, blue eyes can take you a long way. In a small Andhra town, they cut short a girl's life at 15.

On Saturday, Divya, a high school student in Suryapet, hanged herself from a ceiling fan at her home unable to bear the taunts of her classmates. In the note she left behind, she pleaded that in future, girls born with blue eyes should be protected from harassment.

Divya said she could no longer take the insults from her classmates who called her 'pilli kalla pilla' (girl with cat eyes)', a sobriquet used loosely in these parts to describe any woman whose eyes are of a different shade from black.

The insinuation was she was a tribal ' Divya was a Dalit ' as blue, green or hazel eyes are common among tribals in the region, though doctors say eye colour has nothing to do with one's social background.

'It is just a genetic strain,' said a doctor in Hyderabad.

One of Divya's brothers has blue eyes.

In the note, Divya said her teachers and elders did not take her complaints seriously. 'None reassured me that having blue eyes was not an abnormality' and had nothing to do with a person being a Dalit or a tribal, she wrote.

But the jeers were not only over what the young girl's classmates thought was her social background. She was also teased because in the Telengana districts, blue or hazel eyes are associated with devdasis.

Divya's father Surrender Rao said he had told police about the harassment but they did nothing. 'She cried before us. We consoled her and informed the police who just laughed it off,' the distraught 42-year-old said.

The police, for their part, said Divya was a timid girl, so her classmates targeted her. 'The case has all the signs of a teenage crisis. It appears Divya lacked parental advice,' said Srinivas Naidu, the circle inspector of Suryapet, about 130 km from the state capital.

Although both her mother and two sisters blamed Divya's classmates for driving her to death, the police have not registered a murder case against any as she had not named anyone in her note. However, the police have booked a case of eve-teasing and summoned five boys and two girls for questioning.

The police also held a consultation session at the school to drive home how even taunts can drive a person to suicide.

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