The bodies of the two Indian nationals killed in the mass shooting that took place in Istanbul’s Reina nightclub during New Year’s Eve celebrations were brought home on Wednesday morning (4).
Indian union minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed via Twitter on Sunday (1) that fashion designer Khushi Shah and filmmaker and building company owner Abis Rizvi were among the 39 people killed in the terrorist attack.
“I have bad news from Turkey,” Swaraj posted. “We have lost two Indian nationals in the Istanbul attack. Indian Ambassador is on way to Istanbul.”
Shah, 27, had arrived in Istanbul on December 28 in order to attend a fashion shoot and had planned on returning to Mumbai on January 2 after celebrating the New Year in Turkey. The Gujurati fashion designer had moved to Mumbai in 2011 to open her own fashion boutique in the Juhu neighbourhood.
Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani publically offered his condolences to Shah’s family, stating that he had spoken to her father Ashwin Shah to assure him India was assisting in returning his daughter’s body to her hometown of Vadodara.
“The government of Gujarat stands firmly with the bereaved family and extends all possible assistance in their hour of grief,” Rupani tweeted.
Ashwin Shah’s business partner, Nishant Ramani, said that he was “too shocked to speak” after the news was broken to him. Rizvi, 49, the other Indian national killed in the attack, was best known for his 2014 Bollywood film Roar: Tigers of Sundarbans, which he produced and co-wrote.
Born in Mumbai to a former Rajya Sabha MP, he became the CEO of his father’s real estate business and, along with his brothers and cousin, followed his uncle Sibte Hassan Rizvi into the film industry.
His friend, actor and director Puneet Issar, recalled the pair watching a rough cut of Rizvi’s second film, bodybuilding documentary He-Man, days prior to his death. His third film, drama T for Taj Mahal, is still in production and slated for release in March.
Rizvi’s father, Akhtar Hasan Rizvi, left for Istanbul on Monday (2) to collect his son’s body as friends and fans of the victim paid their condolences.
His friend, Bollywood actor Raza Murad, told reporters: “Those terrorists who have done this are not even human beings, they are not even Muslims, they are not even brave. Islam does not permit anybody to take anybody’s life like this.”
The shooting inside the Reina nightclub capped off a tragic year for Turkey, the country having experienced a number of politically-motivated attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and across its southeast border, which have collectively claimed the lives of over 400 people since June 2015.
Casualties in the New Year’s Eve shooting included 39 people from 13 countries, including seven from Saudi Arabia and three rach from both Lebanon and Iraq. An additional 65 people were injured in the attack.
The shooter entered the club at approximately 1:15a.m. dressed as Father Christmas and wielding an automatic rifle. Police in Turkey believe that the terrorist is a Chinese Muslim who moved to the country in November after training in Syria.
The authorities have refused to publicly name the killer, who is still on the run, but arrested his wife on Tuesday (3) and raided a flat they rented together in the city of Konya, in the central Anatolia region.
They suspect that he also lived in Kyrgyzstan for a time before arriving in Turkey with his wife and two children. He escaped after firing into the crowd and as of Wednesday (4) has not been found.
Daesh (Islamic State) was quick to claim responsibility for the attack.