Nine people from India or of Indian origin have gone missing after the mass shootings in two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, the Indian envoy in New Zealand has said. The shootings at the Masjid al Noor mosque at Deans Avenue near Hagley Park and the Linwood Masjid Mosque during afternoon prayers claimed 49 lives and injured at least 40 others.
High commissioner Sanjiv Kohli tweeted that the nine people missing could be Indians or of Indian origin, but the officials have refused to identify any one of them until "certain processes" were completed.
"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," Kohli wrote.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India's High Commission in New Zealand was in contact with local authorities and would extend help to Indians in the nation. "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.
While authorities haven't identified the Indians, relatives of two Indians — Ahmed Iqbal Jahangir of Hyderabad and Mehboob Khokhar of Ahmedabad — have said that they were told of their kin sustaining injuries. Jahangir's brother Khursheed spoke to the News Minute and said that Jahangir was rushed to the hospital after the attack and had undergone a surgery. However, he had no further information and said that the family had appealed to the Centre and the Telangana government expedite his visa process so that he could visit Jahangir in New Zealand.
"He has been in New Zealand for almost 12 years now and he owns a restaurant there which offers Hyderabadi cuisine. He went for his Friday prayers," Khursheed told TNM. "Two of his friends were killed in the attack. My brother himself is struggling for his life. We are not able to get any proper news about what is happening over there. He has a wife and two children; one aged 3 and one aged 5."
As per the Indian High Commission's data on its website, New Zealand is home to about 200,000 Indians and Indian-origin people and there are about 30,000 Indian students in the country.
Meanwhile, the shooter, an Australian-born, was presented in court on Saturday, March 16, morning. Brenton Harrison Tarrant did not seek a name suppression during his court appearance and is said to have shown no signs of remorse.
Instead, the accused smirked at media persons present and swayed while the charges were read out. The 28-year-old Dunedin resident, flanked by two policemen, appeared in white prison clothes, shackled and barefeet, and remained silent throughout. He has been charged with murder and sent to custody without plea until April 5, when he will be produced before the high court for a hearing, reported NZ Herald.