Remains of 2 Indians Killed in Istanbul Attack on Way Home

Prabhat Sharan
2017.01.03
Mumbai
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170103-TK-flowers-1000.jpg People lay flowers in front of the Reina nightclub in Istanbul after 39 people were killed in a shooting claimed by Islamic State in the early hours of New Year’s Day, Jan. 1, 2017.
AFP

The bodies of an Indian filmmaker and budding fashion designer from Gujarat who were gunned down in a New Year’s Day massacre at a nightclub in Istanbul will arrive in Mumbai on Wednesday, India’s foreign minister said.

Abis Rizvi, a 49-year-old Mumbai-based film producer and builder, and Khushi Shah, a 27-year- old fashion designer, were among 39 people killed when a lone gunman sprayed a salvo of bullets at the crowded Reina nightclub in the early hours of Jan. 1 as hundreds were celebrating the new year.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which Turkish officials have declared a terrorist act.

The assailant fled the scene after the assault, which also left about 70 people wounded. The dead included 12 Turks and 27 foreigners, Agence France-Press reported.

In Mumbai, Rizvi’s mother and wife haven’t uttered a word since learning of his death while he was on a vacation in Turkey, a close family friend told BenarNews.

“Both Abis’s mother and wife have become totally silent after they came to know. His 6-year-old son hasn’t yet been told about his father’s death,” he said, requesting anonymity.

“Abis’s sister, who is settled in the U.S., has also flown to Turkey and will be accompanying the body along with her father,” he said.

In neighboring Gujarat state, Nishant Ramani, one of Shah’s closest friends, said he couldn’t believe that his childhood pal was no more.

“She was always brilliant. Anyone who met her believed that she was meant for greatness,” Ramani told BenarNews from Vadodara, his and Shah’s hometown.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she had spoken to Rizvi’s father and Shah’s brother in Turkey, and all arrangements were in place for them to repatriate the bodies of their slain relatives.

“Indian Ambassador Rahul Kulshreshth has made all arrangements. They are returning with mortal remains by Turkish Airlines flight leaving Istanbul tomorrow and reach Mumbai next morning,” Swaraj said in a Twitter post late Monday.

Turkish authorities have arrested a total of 16 suspects, including two foreign nationals, in connection with the nightclub attack, state-run Anadolu news agency reported. But, as of Tuesday, the suspected lone gunman remained at-large.

According to CNN, IS claimed responsibility in a statement disseminated via Twitter.

“In continuation of the blessed operations which ISIS carries out against Turkey, a soldier of the brave caliphate attacked one of the most popular nightclubs while Christians were celebrating their holiday,” the statement said, referring to IS by a different acronym.

‘A lovely unassuming man’

Besides being the CEO of a building firm and secretary of the Rizvi Education Society, a charitable organization, Rizvi also produced and co-wrote a Hindi film titled “Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans,” which was released in 2014.

Rizvi, who was also producing a forthcoming Hindi movie called “He-Man,” will be buried in a south Mumbai cemetery on Wednesday, his friend told Benar.

The film’s director, Puneet Issar, told reporters he had spoken with Rizvi by phone just hours before he was killed.

“I last spoke to him on Dec. 31, at around 10:45 p.m. He sounded as cheerful as ever,” Issar said, adding that he and Rizvi had gone through the rough cut of their film barely a day before the producer left for Turkey.

“He was a fantastic person and a lovely unassuming man,” Issar said.

Javed Rizvi, one of the trustees of Rizvi Education Society, issued a statement requesting the media respect the privacy of Rizvi’s family.

“Rizvi Education Society mourns the death of its secretary Abis Rizvi in a terrorist attack on Sunday. Abis Rizvi was vacationing in Turkey when he fell victim to the heinous act. He is survived by his son, wife and parents,” the statement said.

‘RIP@Khushi’

Shah, a fashion design graduate from the American InterContinental University’s internet-based online campus, moved to Mumbai, home of the Hindi film industry, in 2011 to open her own store.

“In a very short span of time her boutique had become popular among actors and celebrities,” Ramani said.

Shah’s clients expressed shock at the news of the designer’s sudden death.

Well-known businessman Raj Kundra, one of Shah’s clients, said on Twitter: “Shocked to hear my dear friend and designer Khushi died in Istanbul attack. RIP. What horrible news to start the year! Condolences.”

Kundra’s actor-wife, Shilpa Shetty, also paid her respects to those killed via Twitter: “Life is so unpredictable. My heart goes out to the families that have lost their near and dear ones. RIP@ Khushi.”

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