BERKELEY, Calif. — “When I heard about the hostage crisis in Dhaka, the first person that popped into my head was you, Tarishi, and I sent you a text right away. I cannot believe I am now staring at a message I will never get a reply to,” said Teresa, speaking emotionally at a noon vigil here July 5 for Tarishi Jain, a 19-year-old Indian UC Berkeley student who was killed July 2, when terrorists believed to be affiliated with ISIS killed 20 people at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
As Teresa was messaging Jain, her terrified friend was hiding in a bathroom with her buddies — Emory University students Abinta Kabir and Faraaz Hossain —frantically texting her father, Sanjeev Jain.
“I am very afraid — I’m not sure whether I will be able to come out alive,” she wrote, as five gunmen went on a murderous rampage throughout the café. “They are killing everyone here — I think we will be killed one by one.”
More than 500 people gathered at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, the birthplace of the campus’s Free Speech Movement, to commemorate the life of the young Indian national from Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, who was on an internship in Dhaka with Eastern Bank Limited, where she was working on a micro-credit program to offer loans to low-income people.
Jain had spent her formative years in Bangladesh, where her father, Sanjeev Jain, is a Dhaka-based textile merchant and industrialist. The young student — who had enrolled at UC Berkeley in 2015 as an economics major — was scheduled to travel to India later this summer to visit her Indian family in Firozabad, where her three uncles run a glassware and table lamps manufacturing facility.
On the evening of July 2, five gunmen stormed the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, and began taking hostages, largely Italian, Japanese and U.S. foreign nationals. The attackers released 15 people through the night, but hacked to death 20 others, including Jain, Kabir, and Hossain.
During the attack, one of the militants allegedly proclaimed: “We will not kill Bengalis. We will only kill foreigners.” Nine Italian nationals and seven Japanese were killed along with the students.
Hossain — a Bangladesh native who had recently graduated from Emory University’s Oxford College and was scheduled to attend business school there this fall — was reportedly offered his freedom by the gunmen, but heroically refused to leave until Jain and Kabir were also set free; all three were declared dead by Bangladeshi authorities.
The Islamic State immediately took responsibility for the mass carnage, which came in the wake of a June 28 attack at Attaturk Airport, where 30 people were killed; ISIS has claimed responsibility for that attack, as well as the July 3 bombing in Baghdad, which killed more than 200 people. The militant terrorist group has allegedly called upon its followers to commit more such atrocities in its name during the holy month of Ramadan.
Bangladesh police told local media that the attackers were members of the banned domestic militant group Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh. Investigators are looking into whether the group had ties to ISIS.
Lawrence Cohen, a professor of anthropology and South and Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, mourned the loss of his young student’s life at the July 5 vigil, organized by the Associated Students of UC Berkeley. “We are devastated by the loss of Tarishi. It is not just a loss for UC Berkeley, but a loss for the globe,” said the professor, noting that Jain had hoped to use her internship in Dhaka to deepen her understanding of economic development.
Jain’s internship in Dhaka was funded through the Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies at UC Berkeley. “Tarishi was a very talented young lady with a passion to make a positive difference in the world,” said Sujit Chowdhury, whose donation launched the Center, in a statement released by the university.
Jain was interested in microfinance and micro-credit and had helped to create a clothing line — EthiCal Apparel, which bore UC Berkeley’s logo — whose profits were invested in microloans to low-income people.
Cohen later told India-West that the university was looking into creating a more permanent memory of Jain, possibly in the form of a scholarship.
Jain’s roommates at UC Berkeley tearfully spoke at the vigil, declaring their affection for the ebullient Jain, who always made time for her friends, despite a busy schedule of studies and volunteer work with the International Student Advisory Board.
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