Associated Press

UC Berkeley Sophomore Among 20 Hostages Killed in Bangladesh Attack

A statement released by the university described Tarishi Jain as "a smart and ambitious young woman with a big heart."

A 19-year-old University of California, Berkeley student has been identified as one of the 20 hostages killed in an attack at a cafe in Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka, officials said.

Bangladeshi forces stormed the upscale Dhaka restaurant early Saturday to end a hostage-taking by heavily armed militants, killing six of the attackers and rescuing 13 captives, including foreigners.

Twenty hostages were killed during the hourslong standoff, including Tarishi Jain, a student at UC Berkeley, Indian officials confirmed.

"I am extremely pained to share that the terrorists have killed Tarushi, an Indian girl who was taken hostage in the terror attack in Dhaka," India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted, adding that she had spoken with the girl's father, Sanjeev Jain, who is a textile merchant.

In a statement released Saturday, UC Berkeley officials said that Jain, a sophomore, began interning at Dhaka-based Eastern Bank Limited in early June. A graduate of the American International School in Dhaka, Jain planned to major in economics.

About 40 people were taken hostage Friday night when gunmen stormed the popular Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka's Gulshan area, a diplomatic zone, during the holy month of Ramadan. Four security personnel were killed at the start of the attack, according to NBC News. 

Bay Area resident Shaba Rashid, whose daughter goes to UC Berkeley and knew Jain, said that her brother owned the bakery where the attack occured. Although her family came out unscathed, they were emotionally devastated and shocked.

"He spent the whole 13 hours of the standoff outside with police," she said. 

The hostages were given a test: recite verses from the Quran, or be punished, according to a witness. Those who passed were allowed to eat. Those who failed were tortured and slain.

Paramilitary troops who mounted the rescue operations on Saturday morning also recovered explosive devices and sharp weapons from the scene, Brig. Gen. Nayeem Ashfaq Chowdhury said. He did not identify the hostages. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the attack and said security officials arrested one of the militants. 

"Anyone who believes in religion cannot do such acts," Hasina said. "They do not have any religion, their only religion is terrorism."

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activity online.

Tarishi's father waited "anxiously" outside the popular cafe, hoping for news about his daughter, according to UC Berkeley. 

“We are all very devastated to hear the news about Tarishi Jain,” said Sanchita Saxena, executive director of the university's Institute for South Asia Studies and director of the Center for Bangladesh Studies.

"She was a smart and ambitious young woman with a big heart. Our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and the entire Berkeley community."

Aditya Rout met Jain at the start of their freshman year at UC Berkeley. Jain had a leg injury and planned to take an Uber to class, and asked 18-year-old Rout if he wanted to ride with her.

“I thought that was really kind of her,” the Cupertino teen said on FaceTime. “That became a tradition. We’d always Uber to class together. “

Rout, who was struck by Jain’s easygoing and light-hearted nature, said it was really heartbreaking to lose his friend.

He admitted, however, that terror attacks take on a whole new meaning when it impacts someone close to you. They can no longer be dismissed because “it’s personal,” Rout said.

Emerald Wong, 20, who met Jain six months ago, echoed the sentiment.

"I hear about terrorism every day on the news and I’ve become almost numb to it," she said via Skype. "If my friend wasn’t involved, I probably wouldn’t have cared as much. People need to start caring about everyone’s lives."

Jain was a member of EthiCAL Apparel, a UC Berkeley club that designs and prints clothes and offers its profits to entrepreneurs as micro-loans, alongside Wong. 

Having lived in Bangladesh for eight years, Jain told Wong that she had witnessed the effects of poverty and wanted to belong to an organization that served the underprivileged and to make a difference.

"She was very sweet and one of the most genuine people I’ve met at Cal," Wong recalled. "I was really looking forward to getting to know her better this year."

Wong, who was on a beach in Barcelona, connected to WiFi to talk to some friends. Instead, she heard about Jain's death via a Facebook message. 

"I was shocked," she said, tearing up. "I immediately started crying. I’ve been pretty numb ever since."

A vigil will be held for Jain from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Sproul Plaza, the campus hub at UC Berkeley. Counselors are also being provided to students. 

Abinta Kabir, a rising sophomore at Emory University's Oxford, Georgia, campus, was also killed in the attack, NBC News reported. Kabir, who lived in Miami, was in Dhaka visiting family and friends. Her nationality was not immediately clear.

A second Emory student also died, the school said. Faraaz Hossain, from Dhaka, graduated from Emory's Oxford College this year and was a rising junior at the university's business school.

Japan's government said a Japanese hostage was rescued with a gunshot wound but seven others are unaccounted for. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said the eight were together at the restaurant during the attack.

Two Sri Lankans also were rescued, said Lt. Col. Tuhin Mohammad Masud, commander of the Rapid Action Battalion that conducted the rescue operations. Others included an Argentine and two Bangladeshis, local media reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us