Recalling the horrors of March 15, people have sobbed, some have held back their tears while others although traumatised, held themselves together and narrated how their lives changed ever since the terrorist attacks on the two mosques in Christchurch.
Even after one year of the incident that took lives of 51 people and injured 49, the effect of this massacre was beyond one community and one nation. Its pain was reflected by almost every country on earth who poured in their love and support towards the injured, the fallen souls and New Zealand as one big community.
Arifbhai Mohammedali Vora (58) and Ramiz Arifbhai Vora (28)
The father-son duo has been buried next to each other after they were shot at the Al Noor Mosque on March 15. 28-year-old Ramiz Vora dropped his wife, Khushbu Vora and his mother Rukshana to the Christchurch Hospital where the couple’s five-day-old daughter was in an incubator.
Ramiz has only held his daughter once since she was born five-days ago that too for barely a few minutes. Ramiz’s parents had travelled from Gujarat, India, just a month before the incident to meet their son and daughter-in-law and their newborn grandchild. Ramiz worked at Tegel as a halal slaughterman and his wife at Pita Pit in Riccarton before going on maternity leave.
Ramiz’s family friend was informed of the shooting at the Al Noor mosque who could not make it to the prayer session due to work. The family prayed and waited for an update on Ramiz and his father Arifbhai Vora who hadn’t returned from the mosque with the feeble hope if they were injured and hospitalised. A day after the incident, the family was informed that the father-son were two of the 42 declared dead from the Al Noor mosque.
Ansi Karippakulam Alibava, 25
Abdul Nazer went to the men and women section of the Al Noor mosque, an activity they have been doing regularly every Friday only to see each other one last time on March 15 afternoon. Abdul sat on the left side of the mosque and his wife Ansi on the right side women’s section when the shooting started. Abdul Nazer was seated next to the emergency door when he heard the first shot which felt like that of a popping balloon, yet people started dispersing any way they could. Abdul Nazer was able to escape from there as someone had smashed the glass of the emergency door open.
Taking immediate refuge in a neighbour’sr house, Abdul Nazer called the police for help before coming back to the mosque looking for his wife. He saw the horrifying sight of people lying in a pool of blood before locating his wife lying face down in the street. He was stopped by the police then who asked him to move somewhere else, and it was not until Saturday night, the next when police confirmed his wife, Ansi Alibava as one of the 51 victims.
Maheboobhai Allarakha Khokhar, 65
Haji Maheboobhai Allarakha Khokhar was on his first visit to New Zealand as he came to meet his son and daughter in law living here. Mr Khokhar was accompanied by his wife on this trip which was due to end just two days after March 15.
As per the family members, the pair were getting late for the prayers, and they rushed out to the mosque where his son drive Imran dropped him off at Al Noor mosque and drove further to park his car. Moments later, he heard gunshots and called his wife warning them to lock the house as there shooting going on inside the mosque.
Imran could not go in the mosque or leave without his father, as he had already gone inside the mosque and he was frantically waiting for his father to come out.
Mr Khokhar was not carrying any ID or mobile phone for him to be contacted and the family thought he might have hidden somewhere.
Hours passed by, but there was no sign of Mr Khokhar, the family later went to the hospital with the hope to find him there, but all their search efforts and hopes went into vain.
A few days passed before police officially declared his names amongst the list of 50 killed in the incident.
The family repatriated the body to Gujarat, India where his brothers could bid farewell to him, and funeral conducted.
Ozair Kadir, 24
Ozair Kadir came to New Zealand to follow the footsteps of his brother and become a commercial pilot. The 24-year-old from Telangana state in India was studying at International Aviation Academy of New Zealand in Christchurch and had gone to Al Noor mosque on the fateful Friday. Ozair’s body was repatriated to Hyderabad where his funeral was conducted in the presence of his family and a large gathering of community members.
Junaid Ismail, 36
Junaid Ismail was a man of Indian descent born and brought up in New Zealand and ran a family dairy shop in Christchurch. Mr Ismail was at the Al Noor mosque when the shooting happened and succumbed to his bullet injuries. His name was one of the first to be announced and officially declared by NZ Police on March 20.
Mr Ismail’s twin brother was parking his vehicle when the shooting started and survived the attack. Mr Ismail was buried at Linwood Cemetery.
Mohammed Imran Khan, 46
Restaurateur Mohammed Imran Khan was known for his lip-smacking dishes at his restaurant Indian Grill. Mr Khan was at Linwood mosque on Friday to make his congregational prayers where he was shot dead along with six others.
The 46-year-old from Hyderabad is survived by his wife, his 15-year-old son, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, most of whom had flown to Christchurch hearing the news of his untimely demise. This was the second heart-breaking news for the family Mr Khan had buried his father just four months ago. Besides food, Mr Khan was known for his love of cricket, and as a devout worshipper and family man.
Farhaj Ahsan, 30
The 30-year-old software engineer working in Christchurch from Hyderabad, India left behind two children and wife after being shot at Al Noor mosque. Farhaj’s brother and father travelled from India to collect his body and conduct the funeral at Linwood Cemetery. Farhaj and his wife Insha Aziz have a three-year-old daughter and a year and half old son. Ms Aziz’s parent travelled to Christchurch too after the news of the incident to help their widowed daughter steer through the tough time.
Ashraf Ali, 61
Ashraf Ali was living in New Zealand for the past 17 years and is said to have never missed prayer at the Al Noor mosque.
Ashraf Razak Ali, 58
Ashraf Ali, a soccer fan, had come from Suva, Fiji to meet his brother Ramzan Ali just six days ago on his bi-annual trip to meet his brother and his family living in Christchurch. The brothers had gone together to pray at Al Noor mosque. Ashraf Ali sat on the ground in front of his brother Ramzan, who had to rest on a bench at the back of the room because of a sore hip.
Ramzan was able to escape through the window when the gunman sprayed bullets at the worshippers in the room. Outside the mosque, Ramzan worried about his brother whether he survived the attack. It was only after Ramzan saw the Livestream footage taken by the shooter where he saw his brother wearing black and white rugby jersey of his home country. Ashraf Ali’s first wife died four years ago with whom he had one child, and his second wife had died just a few months ago in Fiji.
Imam Musa Vali Suleman Patel, 60
Imam Musa Vali Patel’s funeral was held at Manukau Memorial Park in Auckland in the presence of over thousands who gathered to bid farewell to the pious man who was shot at Linwood Mosque. Mr Patel was a former leader of Fiji Muslim league, a chief Imam at Lautoka Jamia Masjid for about 25 years before he moved to Australia to be with his children just three weeks ago. Mr Patel was visiting Christchurch with his wife for some work. Mr Patel is survived by his wife Saira Bibi Patel, three daughters and two sons. He was remembered as a devout, religious person, calm, a teacher and mentor who also officiated marriages in the community. Some of the people whose weddings he officiated years ago came to his funeral to pay their respects.