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Miss India Pooja Chopra''s dad told mum to kill her or forfeit marriage
May 3:
Published on 3 May. 2009 11:44 PM IST
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Pooja Chopra's survival is being celebrated throughout India. However, when the Miss India World 2009 was 20 days old, her mother was asked by her husband to make a choice - kill her child or forfeit the marriage. Despite knowing that she would be thrown out the house, mum Neera decided to keep her daughter, and thus defied the wishes of a bullying husband who wanted the baby destroyed. Now, twenty-three years later, Pooja, a vivacious young woman, has become a quintessential example of the axiom: every cloud has a silver lining. She has also become a symbol for the campaign against a tradition that values boys above girls. "When my mum walked out on my dad, she said to him, 'One day this girl will make me proud'. All my life I've wanted my mum to be proud of the decision that she chose me," The Times quoted Pooja, as saying. Her success has brought Neera into the limelight. Neera's husband had a respectable job but was a philanderer, prone to domestic violence. After the birth of her first child, a girl named Shubhra, he made her life a misery. When she became pregnant again, seven years later, Neera clung to the hope that if the baby was a boy her marriage could be saved. Instead she had Pooja. Her husband and his relatives refused to visit the baby in hospital. "I had to make a choice. I left the house with my girls and I haven't seen my husband since," Neera said. He married another woman and refused to give any financial support to his daughters. Neera worked incessantly to provide for them: "I used to struggle for shoes, socks, uniforms. Sometimes I couldn't put two square meals a day on the table." Pooja had nothing to say to her father, who "does not exist" for her. "I don't even know if my father knows it is me, his daughter, who has set out to conquer the world. Today, when people call to congratulate me, it's not me they pay tribute to, but to [my mother's] life and her struggle. She's the true woman of substance," she said.

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