KOCHI, INDIA: The body of an Indian student killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks was returned on Monday to her grieving family in Kochi, where relatives remembered a bright young woman dedicated to her studies.
Ansi Alibava, 25, was the first of at least five Indians shot dead by a white supremacist in New Zealand on March 15 to be repatriated.
Her body was returned at an airport in Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala early on Monday, an AFP photographer present said.
The family planned to hold a funeral ceremony for the masters’ student in their nearby hometown of Kodungallur.
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Alibava was praying at the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch with her husband, Abdul Nazer, when the Australian gunman opened fire on worshippers, killing 43.
Another seven were murdered at a separate mosque when the shooter later turned his weapon on Muslims there in the worst violence of its kind ever seen in New Zealand.
Some families have opted for burials in Christchurch itself, where a national remembrance service for the victims will be held on Friday, two weeks after the tragedy that shocked the world.
Born into a middle-class family in Kodungallur, Alibava started supporting her family after her father died five years ago in Saudi Arabia where he had been working.
She took thousands of dollars in loans to fund her studies in business agriculture at Christchurch's Lincoln University.
Alibava's cousin, P H Niyas, told AFP the dedicated student was soon to finish her studies.
"She had gone there last year; the course was due to finish by April. There was to be a six-month training (course) after which she was to return home by December," said Niyas.
Alibava also worked part-time at a supermarket with Nazer, who she married two years ago.
On March 15, they went to the Al Noor Mosque and sat separately in the men and women's sections.
When gunfire broke out, Nazer managed to flee through an emergency exit but his wife did not make it.
When he returned to look for her, Nazer found his young wife motionless and face down, according to Indian media reports.
He was officially informed of her death 24 hours after the massacre.
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Another Indian family who lost relatives in the attack opted for burial in Christchurch.
Father and son Asif Vora and Rameez Vora hailed from Gujarat, in western India, and were visiting family in New Zealand when they were killed.
"They decided to perform the last rites there itself," a community leader, Zuber Goplani, told AFP.
The body of another victim also from Gujarat, Maheboob Khokhar, was expected to be returned to India this week, his family said.