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Chaithanya Swetha: She was outgoing, he was an introvert

Cloud of gloom in Melbourne’s Point Cook community, where Chaithanya ‘Swetha’ Madhagani lived, and allegedly died.

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A clearer picture is emerging of 36-year-old Chaithanya ‘Swetha’ Madhagani, the young Melbourne mum whose body was found in a wheelie bin this past weekend. From photos and descriptions of those who knew her, it appears she loved life and living it with grace and positivity.

Prabha Agraja, an active member of the local Telugu family of which Chaithanya was a part, told Indian Link, she was a devoted mum and homemaker who often shared food and recipes with neighbours and was keen to get an online neighbourhood community going.

“She was always impeccably dressed – her social media posts showed her penchant for saris,” he said. “She called her collection “Swetha’s Closet” and supported handloom saris and backed the weavers who made them with love and care.”

The needle of suspicion is on her husband, Ashok Raj Varikuppala, who some reports claim, travelled to Hyderabad in India along with his four-year-old son after allegedly committing the crime, and has reportedly called Victoria Police to confess.

He worked at the nearby Coles Express in Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, and acquaintances claim he was an introvert.

A friend of the couple Raja Ramesh Reddy took to Facebook to say, “The news of Chaithanya (Swetha) garu’s passing is truly devastating. I had a conversation with her just last weekend at Ready Steady Go, where we discussed our kids’ activities. I am in disbelief over this news. Her sudden departure has left us all in shock. Our hearts go out to her family and the little one during this difficult time. It’s imperative that justice is served and those responsible for this are swiftly held accountable and brought to justice. We pray for strength to her family in these tough times”.

Raja said that as an active community member he knew Swetha for long and had an almost 15 minutes chat with her last week which he now claims was the last conversation he had with the deceased.

Raja has been in touch with Swetha’s family back in India, where the news of the death has been reported widely.

According to NDTV in India, the local member of parliament in Uppal (eastern Telangana) where Swetha’s family lives, Bandari Lakshma Reddy, has contacted the grieving parents.

He has also contacted the Foreign Office to bring Swetha’s body back to Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, Labour Day long weekend in Victoria has been a quiet one in the West of Melbourne, overlooking the Central Business District. A cloud of gloom prevails in Point Cook especially, a suburb popular with Indian settlers where Swetha lived, and allegedly died. Her body was found dumped in a wheelie bin, some 80 kilometres away from her home in Saltwater Coast.

Sudhir Juneja from the Point Cook Indian Community, Melbourne Facebook group wrote, “We remember our local community member Chaithanya Madhagani (Swetha). Extremely sad news from Point Cook, we truly wish we could turn back the clock and help her somewhere. May God bless this departed soul.”

Navjeet Kaur commented on social media, “A tragic loss of life, taken before its time. A loving mother with a passion for capturing life’s moments, we hope that justice will be served and your soul will rest in peace. Your memory will live on in the hearts of your loved ones.”

Swetha probably breathed her last at a time when communities across Melbourne, and indeed the world, were marking International Women’s Day, and calling for increased rights, primary among them safety and security. Her death shows that such safety eludes many women even in their own homes.

Prabha Agraja commented, “Domestic violence is not just about the safety of women, it’s about the well-being of families and the crimes that are often planned behind closed doors. It’s crucial to approach these situations with empathy and understanding. Let’s use social media as a platform to support each other’s mental health and well-being … let’s strive to understand the complexities of these situations and offer support where it’s truly needed.”

He spoke for the rest of his community when he added, “Swetha you will be remembered forever, maa. Rest in Peace.”

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