At least five Indians have died in the March 16 terror attacks on two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand.
India’s High Commission in New Zealand had, earlier in the day, said it had been pursuing with local authorities whereabouts of seven Indians and two Indian-origin persons (PIOs). Two Indians are receiving treatments, the Indian mission added.
Of the seven Indians, five have died. One is recovering from his injuries in a hospital, while one escaped unhurt.
At least 49 worshippers were killed on Friday in attacks on the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and the Linwood Mosque in the city’s outer suburb, in what appeared to be the worst attack on Muslims in a western country.
Two of the dead are Ramiz Vohra (27) and Arif Vohra (58).
The Vohra household has fallen silent in shock. They lost two members of their family in the attack leaving behind wife with a son and a four-day old daughter. Ramiz had gone to offer his Friday prayers along with his father, Arif, at Alnoor mosque located in Christchurch.
When the news of attack came, Arif Vohra’s wife, Ruksana, tried to call her son but there was no response. She panicked and immediately called up the family in India.
Ramiz’s uncle Mohsin Vohra spoke to India Today and said, We are in shock. We got a phone call from Ruksana, that her son and her husband were at Alnoor Mosque located at Christchurch offering Namaaz when they were attacked. When we heard that they are not picking up their phones, we immediately got in touch with MEA to locate them. Our family is shattered.
The family members have got visa on an urgent basis and would be flying to New Zealand on Sunday to take care of the two women of the family who are all by themselves.
Hafiz Musa Wali of Bharuch also died in the attack.
News agency ANI on Saturday reported that Haji Ali Patel, as saying, that his brother, Musa Wali, died while undergoing treatment at the hospital.
“My brother and his wife had gone together to the mosque. My brother was shot in the back and was rushed to a hospital by police. My sister-in-law followed him to hospital but wasn’t allowed to meet. They are not able to contact us. I urge the Central government, PM Modi, EAM Sushma Swaraj and the Gujarat chief minister to help them reunite,” Patel had earlier told ANI.
The other three of the seven Indians belong to the state of Telangana. A young software professional Farhaj Ahsan died in that attack.
Farhaj went to New Zealand ten years ago and had been living with his wife and two children. He was planning to soon relocate back to India.
Speaking to India Today, his father Mohammed Sayeeduddin said, “I cannot explain what my family is going through. My son was admitted to a hospital there so we had begun praying for his life. But my daughter-in-law called us up today evening (Saturday) and informed us that he has passed away.”
The other native of Telangana Mohd Imran Ahmed Khan of Karimnagar also succumbed to his injuries. He was brought to the hospital in critical condition. His family was informed about the death on Saturday evening. They did not wish to speak about their grief.
There are two survivours of the attack. Both are from Telangana.
While Ahmed Jahangir was hit by a bullet on the chest and is undergoing treatment, the other man from Nalgonda Mohammed Abdul Aleem, who is the treasurer of one of the mosques which saw the bloodbath escaped the attack unhurt.
Ahmed Jahangir runs a restaurant and went to offer prayers when he was hit. His brother Khursheed, who is in Hyderabad spoke to India Today and said they were in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs and would soon heading to meet him in New Zealand.
Khursheed said, “We identified him in the video that was live-streamed by the terrorist. The video was not clear so I tried to call my brother. When I didn’t hear from him, I approached the Indian mission there. I couldn’t believe that my brother was shot and was badly injured.”
Of the two persons of Indian origin, India Today managed to trace down the family of one from Gujarat, Junaid Yusuf Qara of Navsari, who died in the attack.
Junaid (35) had been in New Zealand for past three generations. He used to go to the mosque every Friday with his brother. This Friday was no different.
While Junaid entered the mosque, his brother was in the parking when he heard gunshots and fled to safety.
Fatima Kara, distraught aunt of the victim, who lives in Baroda, spoke to India Today and said, “We lost our son. He has children. I spoke to our daughter-in-law. She is in shock. I can’t believe this has happened to my family. The New Zealand government is taking care of them, but we lost our son. We don’t understand how his wife and kids will survive.”
Approximately 200,000 Indian and Indian-origin people live in New Zealand. There are over 30,000 Indian students in the country, according to the Indian High Commission’s data on its website.
On Friday, India’s High Commissioner in New Zealand Sanjiv Kohli tweeted: “As per updates received from multiple sources there are 9 missing persons of indian nationality/ origin. Official confirmation still awaited. Huge crime against humanity. Our prayers with their families”.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Friday that India’s High Commission in New Zealand was in touch with local authorities for more information.
The gunman at one mosque was an Australian-born citizen, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Sydney, describing him as “an extremist, right-wing, violent terrorist”.