Christchurch counts its victims: 1 Indian among dead, 2 injured, 6 missing

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.

At least one Indian was killed, two more injured and six reported missing in the wake of the terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand Friday that left 49 dead. While one victim was identified as Mohammed Juned Kara (34) from Navsari in Gujarat, the Indian High Commission in New Zealand said there were nine “missing persons of Indian nationality/origin” and that they were awaiting  official confirmation.

Hours after the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed “deep shock and sadness” over the death of scores of people in the heinous terrorist attack in New Zealand while stressing India’s strong condemnation of terrorism and of all  those who support such acts of violence.

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In a letter to Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, Modi also underscored India’s solidarity with the people of her country at this difficult time. The Indian High Commissioner to 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”

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Juned, from Halda village in Navsari district, owned a general store and was the father of three children, according to his family. Mohammed Ahmed, Kara’s father in law, told The Indian Express: “My daughter Sabiha, got married to Mohammed Juned who is born in New Zealand. His father Mohammed Yusuf Kara, shifted to New Zealand from Navsari long ago. Juned is the father of three children and among them eldest is 10 years old.”

“Today morning, we saw the news and contacted Sabiha. She confirmed the incident but she was in a rush as Juned’s mobile number was not reachable. She reached the hospital where the injured were admitted and checked the names of the patients, but could not find his name.”

According to Ahmed, she went to the mosque and checked with the list of the dead and found her husband’s name. “She called us around 8 pm and informed us about the death of her husband. We all are saddened and we have conducted prayers in the mosque in our village, today night,” he said.

He said Juned had come to Surat a couple of years ago. “He stayed here for few days and visited his native place in Ankleshwar. My daughter also accompanied him. We all are shocked by this incident as Mohammed Juned was humble and down to earth,” he said.

Another Indian from Gujarat, Arif Vohra (58) and his nephew Rameez Vohra (28) have been reported missing after the mosque attacks. “My nephew just became a father five days ago. His wife and daughter were going to get discharged from the hospital today and before that the shooting happened,” said Mohsinbhai Vohra, Arif’s brother.

Rameez moved to New Zealand with his wife nine years ago and worked at a factory. Arif and his wife went to New Zealand 25 days ago to visit welcome their granddaughter into the world, he said.

“Rameez’s wife had called today to inform that there is no update about my brother and nephew. They are missing and we don’t know whether they are alive or dead. We are praying for their well being,” he said.

Hafiz Musa Patel, the Pesh Imam of Lautoka mosque in Fiji Islands was among those injured Friday. Patel is from Lunawara village in Bharuch and holds a Fijian passport, say sources at the village.

And As videos and images of the worst-ever mass killing in New Zealand surfaced on television and social media, Ahmed Jahangir Khursheed’s family were stunned when he figured in one video. “He lives there with his wife and two small children. We saw him in a video of the shooting being circulated on social media. He appears to have been shot in the leg,” said his younger brother Iqbal.

“My sister-in-law does not have much information about his condition as he is in hospital where visitors are not being allowed. I want to go to Christchurch immediately to help my sister-in-law and take care of the two children until my brother recovers. I am appealing to the Ministry of External Affairs to issue a visa to me urgently to go there,’’ he said.

Iqbal, his mother and two sisters live in Rahatnagar in Hyderabad’s Ambarpet area and said Khursheed moved to New Zealand 15 years ago and runs a small hotel in Christchurch. After watching his brother in a video, Iqbal contacted Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi who tweeted to the MEA and the TRS government in Telangana to help him get a visa quickly.

Farhaj Ehsan, a software engineer whose family lives in Tolichowki area of Hyderabad, has also been reported missing. Speaking to The Indian Express, his father, Mohammed Sayeeduddin, said Farhaj always went to the al-Noor mosque on Fridays because it is near his house in Riccarton.

“At 8 am here, my daughter-in-law called and told us about the incident. She said that she was trying to call Farhaj but he was not answering his cell phone. I have been calling his phone since morning, it is ringing but there is no answer. My daughter-in-law was unable to go into the mosque as police stopped her,” he said.

“She has given his photo and particulars to police. Authorities at one hospital where injured are admitted told her that he was not there. Police have told her that he is not among the 49 fatalities. He is not among the injured also. But police have said that at least 17 persons were missing. We are hoping that as there is a lockdown he may be held up somewhere and unable to contact anyone.”

In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India’s High Commission in New Zealand is in touch with local authorities for more information.

“Our mission is in touch with local authorities to ascertain more details. It is a sensitive matter and therefore we can’t give confirmed numbers/names till we are absolutely certain,” he said.

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.

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