Sunday, July 3, 2016

"I'm hiding in the toilet with friends, I think we will be killed one by one"

Tarishi Jain and Faraaz Hossain, two years ago

Among the slain hostages were three students who had been studying in the United States - Tarishi Jain, 19, an Indian studying at UC Berkeley, Faraaz Hossain, a Bangladeshi, about to enter Emory's Goizueta Business School and Abinta Kabir, 18, an American of Bangladeshi parentage who lived in Miami, Florida and was a freshman at Emory.

They were friends.

At some point during the siege, Tarishi Jain's father received a phone call from his daughter who was hiding in the bathroom with the two others. The article from The Times of India does not make it clear when the call was made and thus how long the group had survived in hiding. But at some point she and the others were killed by the terrorists before the restaurant was stormed by police.

Newspaper accounts claim that Jain's body bore the marks of torture. All three probably died by being stabbed and hacked to death with knives.

UPDATE: According Faraaz Hossain's nephew, who claims to have heard this account from one of then freed hostages, the terrorists offered Hossain - who may have appeared less Western or more Muslim - the chance to leave with some of the other Bangladeshis. He chose to stay with his friends.

Yesterday, the #DhakaAttack hashtag on Twitter was partly filled by people complaining that the Dhaka attack and its victims were not getting the same coverage as Orlando a few weeks before. To the extent that that was true, I think it was to some degree understandable. It was understandable for Americans to be focused on something happening to Americans in an American city, just as it's understandable that for the Bangladeshi and Indian public to have been riveted on the Dhaka attack for the last thirty-six hours.

I should add that one of the victims turned out to be American but the State Department announced this quite late and bizarrely did not identify the victim.

Abinta Kabir, outside Holey Artisan Bakery
And of course, there are Muslim terrorist attacks around the world literally every day now. Yesterday, two car bombs, planted by ISIS went off in Baghdad. The first, in a busy market and shopping area, killed over 125 people, many of them children.

My own view is that the statistics matter. It matters how many lost their lives. But just as 9/11 was in part made real for us by the individual pictures of the jumpers or the stories of the desperate phone calls made to loved ones by those trapped in the upper floors, we should, when we can, try not to forget that these "mass casualty" events happened to real human beings. I assume each of us can imagine being one of them. An obvious point, and it can't be made without sounding trite but there it is.

From the The Times of India:
AGRA/FIROZABAD: Sometime before 6 am on Saturday when 19-year-old Tarishi Jain's phone went dead, her father Sanjiv Jain, who had been waiting outside Gulshan Cafe through most of the night after he got to know that heavily armed terrorists had stormed the restaurant in upscale Dhaka and were butchering guests, got a call. 
It was from his daughter, cowering inside a toilet with two of her friends, Faraaz Ayaz Hossain and Abinta Kabir, hiding from the rat-tat-tat of gunfire outside the washroom's door. "Terrorists have entered the restaurant," she told her father, who was planning just a day earlier to bring his wife and two children to Firozabad in UP for a short holiday before Tarishi headed back to the US where she was an Economics undergraduate at the University of California. "I am very afraid and not sure whether I will be able to come out alive. They are killing everyone here."
It had been a long and harrowing night for Sanjiv as he gathered with dozens of anxious family and friends of those huddled in the cafe to know how the bloody strike on innocent and unarmed men and women would end. By the time the terrorists were neutralised, 20 people, mostly foreigners and among them Tarishi - the only Indian among the casualties - had died. 
Tarishi was a recipient of an internship with a Bangladesh bank through the Institute for South Asia Studies at her university in California. 
"After coming to know that Tarishi is among the hostages, we remained glued to our TV set the entire night and remained in touch with Sanjiv (her father) Rakesh Mohan Jain, Tarishi Jain's uncle. "She said, `I'm hiding in the toilet with friends, I think we will be killed one by one'. He was standing outside the cafe the whole time. We were in touch with him throughout," he said. 
Her brother Sanchit, who has done his engineering from Canada, had landed in Delhi a day earlier so that the family of four, along with mother Tulika, could all head to Firozabad — where Sanjiv's three brothers Rakesh, Rajiv and Ajit have a flourishing trade in glass — on Saturday. That family reunion was never to be. At the Jains' Suhag Nagar home in Firozabad, there is both anger and deep grief. "We don't want her to be cremated in the land where she was brutally murdered.

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