College staffer who set herself on fire dies

New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) A former woman employee of a Delhi University college who last week set herself ablaze over alleged sexual harassment by the institution's principal died here Monday, police said.

"Pavitra Bhardwaj died in hospital around 8.30 a.m.," a police officer told IANS.

Bhardwaj, 40, a resident of east Delhi, set herself on fire outside the Delhi Secretariat Sep 30 around 2 p.m. by pouring kerosene on herself, police said.

Her estranged husband, Dharmendra Sharma, is an assistant sub-inspector in Delhi Police.

"Pavitra succumbed to her over 90 percent burns. It is unfortunate that we could not save her," said a hospital doctor.

She had levelled allegation of sexual assault against the principal of Delhi University's B.R. Ambedkar College in east Delhi.

Bhardwaj claimed she was taking the extreme step to protest her sacking from the post of lab assistant when she threatened the principal of reporting her sexual harassment to the university authorities.

Her brother Vinay told IANS that she was sacked from the college in March 2012 without any notice.

Vinay said she approached police on the advice of her estranged husband, but failed to get help in seven months.

"We sent several letters to police officials, woman organisations and the Delhi chief minister but could not get any assurance," he said.

Alok Kumar, deputy commissioner of police, said: "We are verifying the victim's statement and questioning people...only after that we will decide whether to file any case."


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