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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Prayers for Prabha

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Indian-origin lady tragically attacked at Parramatta Park

It was a poignant moment when Arun Kumar, husband of Prabha Kumar addressed the media and community, accompanied by Shankar Shetty, Prabha’s brother on March 12, 2015. “Prabha was planning to buy a little penguin toy and send it to our daughter in India, but now she will never be able to do that.” A chilling final statement to what has been a harrowing time for the family of Prabha Arun Kumar, brutally murdered on the evening of March 7, as she walked through Parramatta Park on her way to her home in Westmead.

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The details of the incident have been widely covered in mainstream and community media, as well as in papers overseas. However, despite initial misinformation, the incident seems to be a random attack. In brief, Prabha, an IT professional working for Mindtree Ltd., was returning from work at around 9pm on Saturday, March 7. She walked from Parramatta Station to her home in Westmead, taking a short cut through the Parramatta Park and was a mere 300 metres away from home when she was set upon by an assailant who allegedly attacked her and ran away. She was found around 9:30pm on the dimly lit pathway and the police and paramedics were called immediately. She was taken to Westmead Hospital having sustained numerous injuries from a sharp-edged weapon, but passed away a few hours later from losing too much blood. Ironically, Prabha was talking on the phone to her husband Arun in India at the time, and she had confided in him that she felt someone ‘big’ had been following her. Arun heard her scream and plead with the assailant, before the phone went dead. Her husband contacted her office in Sydney, and colleagues rushed to Westmead Hospital.

Arun rushed to Sydney on the next available flight leaving behind their 9 year old daughter in the care of other family members in Bengaluru. Back in Sydney, Prabha’s brother from Perth arrived and her colleagues and friends here kept in constant touch with the NSW police investigating the case. “I am a husband who has lost his wife and the father of a young girl who has lost her beloved mother. I cannot describe to you the pain I presently feel. My wife was the most caring and beautiful soul,” said the statement by Kumar, perhaps the most difficult one he has ever had to make.

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“I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I have lost my much-loved sister. The pain I have felt since my sister’s death has been unimaginable. No one deserves to have any of their family taken away from them in these horrible circumstances. My sister was a loving wife, mother, daughter and sibling. She was loved by many. We don’t want any other family to go through the pain we are going through. Tragically, Prabha will never see her daughter grow up,” said Shankar Shetty, Prabha’s brother, in a statement. Both made an impassioned plea to the public to come forward in assisting the police to apprehend the murderer. “I know that we can’t bring her back but I want whoever killed my gorgeous wife to be brought to justice,” stated Kumar. “I appeal to anyone who has any information to contact police. Please help detectives catch whoever killed my sister. And finally I say this to the person who did this; you have taken my sister’s life, please step forward, get help, and get your life back,” said Shetty. Following the tragic incident, NSW Police have held a series of conferences with the local and community March 2015 www.theindiantelegraph.com.au 11 Indian media and members of the community, to advise them on progress made in the investigations, all of which were attended by Vish Viswanathan, Chief Correspondent at The Indian Telegraph. A special detective squad Strike Force Marcoala – which comprises of police from Parramatta Local Area Command and State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, has been formed to investigate the death. While the attack was described as “brutal and cowardly”, the NSW police reassured the community that there is no information to suggest that the attack was racial or sexual in nature. Investigations are ongoing, but little progress has been made in apprehending the perpetrator; however NSW Police are determined to bring the murderer to justice. The incident has also raised terse questions on the safety of women, work practices and even issues like better lighting at the Parramatta Park.

Sydneysiders have been shocked by this seemingly mindless act of violence that has ended the life of a dearly loved wife and mother, a cherished friend and respected colleague. “Its hard to believe that she’s not here any more, its very difficult to accept,” said a source close to Prabha. Community members, the Consul General of India in Sydney and Mindtree have been supporting the family through this traumatic time, as well as the police in their investigations. Mike Baird, Premier of NSW also offered his condolences and support to the family and community, reiterating that all efforts were being made to fully investigate the crime.

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Numerous bouquets of flowers were placed in her memory on the pathway in the days following the attack, and on March 11, a candlelight walk and prayer vigil was held at Parramatta Park around 7:45pm, in memory of Prabha Kumar. Over 200 people attended despite inclement weather, with the NSW Police and various TV and radio channels also reporting. It is a fitting tribute to the 41-year-old who lost her life through this terrible act of violence.While the police cannot estimate a timeframe involved in the investigation as it is a “difficult case”, they are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com. au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People are reminded that they should not report crime information via the organisation’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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