WELLINGTON — At least nine people of Indian nationality or Indian origin are missing after the Mar. 15 shootings at two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch left 49 people dead, High Commissioner Sanjiv Kohli said.
"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 tweeted.
"My deep gratitude to members of the community in Christchurch who are working through the night to get updates for us on the victims of today's dastardly attack. Can’t be a better example than this of dedication and solidarity."
Gunmen said to be whites opened indiscriminate fire at two mosques — Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Avenue Mosque — in Christchurch during prayers in what New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was a terror attack.
Ahmed Jehangir, a man from Hyderabad, was among those shot at in the horrific massacre. He was injured and taken to the hospital, his brother Khursheed Iqbal Jehangir told IANS in Hyderabad.
Ahmed, settled in New Zealand for 15 years, runs a Hyderabadi food restaurant near Al Noor Mosque. "My brother was shot in his chest. A video I received shows him lying on stretcher," Khursheed said.
An anxious Khursheed was waiting for more information from New Zealand. He wants to rush to New Zealand to be with his brother and appealed to the Indian government for help.
Another man from Hyderabad was also reported missing. Farhaj Ahsan, had gone to the same mosque for prayers and was listed missing after the attack by gunmen.
His father Mohammed Sayeeduddin and other family members were worried over Farhaj's well-being and were waiting for information.
Farhaj, a software engineer, used to regularly offer Friday prayers at Al Noor mosque as he lives in a nearby neighborhood with his wife and two children.
Like every day, Sayeeduddin rang up his son, unaware of what was going on at the mosque. "We speak to him over phone every day around afternoon and today being Friday I rang him around 8 a.m. but he did not respond," he told IANS.
He then called his daughter-in-law, who informed him that there was an attack at the mosque and she also tried to reach Farhaj over his mobile phone.
She later went to hospital with a picture of her husband and after a long wait, the authorities told her that he is among 19 people missing.
"We are worried about his well-being and waiting for some information from there," said Sayeeduddin, who lives in Nadeem Colony here.
Farhaj had gone to New Zealand 15 years ago and did his MS from Auckland University. He worked for various companies and had recently completely a project for a firm in Christchurch.
Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted to Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, urging her to provide immediate assistance to the two families to facilitate their travel to New Zealand.
Hassan, 29, a Sri Lankan Muslim who has lived in New Zealand for six months, said he came to the country for its "peace, and because there are no wars.”
At the Linwood mosque when the shooting began, he said: "The shooter was screaming a lot and waving the gun in every direction, shooting, shooting, shooting."
"I don't know who of my friends is dead or alive now. I am waiting. The police told me: 'I am sorry, this is the first time this has ever happened in this country.'"
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, U.S. President Donald Trump, his predecessor Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders sent their messages of support to New Zealand.