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Cal in Mourning: Campus Vigil for Student Killed by Terrorist Attack in Bangladesh

July 5, 2016
by Krissy Eliot

Around 200 people—some clinging to each other and wiping away tears— gathered near the front steps of UC Berkeley’s Sproul Hall today in a vigil for student Tarishi Jain. One of the 20 victims of the July 2nd Bangladesh terrorist attack, she was remembered as talented and compassionate, and her death was mourned as “not just a loss of India and UC Berkeley; it is the loss of the globe.”

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks told the crowd that although he had never met Jain, it was made clear to him from friends and loved ones that Jain was “living a life of meaning and purpose, of dedication to the greater good, to helping others, to making the world a better place.”

He urged people to “give meaning to this tragic loss and push back against the darkness with the light shed by human kindness and love.”

Jain was sophomore who graduated from the American International School in Dhaka and transferred to Berkeley in 2015. She was in Dhaka studying for a summer internship through UC Berkeley’s Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, according to the university. Jain’s internship was at Eastern Bank Limited, where she was investigating changes in e-commerce in local businesses. A message from the Chowdhurys, who founded the center, was read aloud. They wrote to say that they were “devastated at the loss of Tarishi. She was a very talented young lady with passion to make a positive difference in the world. It is not just a loss of India and UC Berkeley; it is the loss of the globe.”

She’d been an active member of the International Student Advisory Board, which helps organize events for international students. She also helped to create EthiCal Apparel, a clothing line that reinvested profits to give microloans to low-income people who cannot gain access to banking.

Tina Jabeen, a graduate of Haas School of Business, spoke on behalf of the Bangladeshi community and the many South Asian groups “who are active in trying to protect human rights and fight against the darkness which took Tarishi.”

“How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky? Yes, how many deaths will it take until he knows that too many people have died?” Jabeen asked, evoking Bob Dylan’s famous folk song. “The answer, my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind. Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Medina. How many cities will cry before these demons are annihilated?”

Armed terrorists stormed a popular café and bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and gruesomely slaughtered Jain and other people who did not recite the Quran on command. The hostage takeover went on for 12 hours until Bangladeshi police were able to rush the Holey Artisan Bakery where Jain and the others were held. Police rescued 13 hostages and killed six gunmen. In addition to assault rifles, the attackers, who were all Bangladeshis, had hand grenades, cleavers, and knives—which they used to shoot and butcher their victims, according to Amaq, an information outlet linked to ISIS.

Five of Tarishi’s floor mates got up to speak on her behalf, their arms around each other. They spoke about late night dance parties, eating delicious Indian snacks and laughing at YouTube videos. They also talked about how Tarishi had been very strong—having been through painful leg ligament surgery, and how no matter what, she was always there to talk to them when they needed her.

“Tarishi would listen to me whenever I came to her about anything. She wasn’t just listening, but she was truly caring about everything you said,” said floor mate Mackenzie Monroe.

Other speakers at the vigil included Jong Ha Lee and Jay Sananvatananont of the International Students Association at Berkeley, UC Berkeley anthropology professor Lawrence Cohen, and many of Jain’s close friends. Many of those in attendance also wrote their thoughts and condolences on a huge sheet of paper.

The vigil acknowledged the loss of two other American students who lost their lives in the café attack: Emory University’s Oxford College students Faraaz Hossain and Abinta Kabir.

Vigil photos by Marica Petrey.

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