Bus driver Manmeet Sharma's family calls for justice, safety for community
As Manmeet Sharma's state of Punjab, India celebrates Diwali, the festival of light, his brother and close family friend are calling for justice.
Long time family friend Winnerjit Goldy and Manmeet's older brother Amit Sharma, also known as Amit Alisher, flew into Brisbane early Sunday morning and as they sat in a home in Brisbane's south east later today with the curtains drawn, they were physically and emotionally exhausted.
They had just been to visit the spot where their brother and friend had been burned to death as he sat behind the wheel of a bus at Moorooka on Friday.
Mr Goldy said neither he nor Amit had slept since learning of Manmeet's death, which had rocked them to their core.
Speaking on behalf of Amit, who was too shocked to talk as he grieved for his brother, Mr Goldy said the last few days had been extremely difficult.
"From last three days, all the time has been very hard for us, every time is very hard for us, it is really the worst time in our lives we are suffering from something the whole world knows about," he said.
Mr Goldy said their 29-year-old brother and friend was a "visionary man" who was a leader in his community.
"He was not only driver, he is a shining star, a good artist, a good hero, he had made two movies, he was a good social worker, he did a lot of things for his community in Australia even in India also," he said.
"We invested everything on that guy, for his studies for his life."
Manmeet's family back home in the village of Alisher have not been told of the "heinous" crime, Mr Goldy said, and neither he nor Amit have seen their parents since learning of Manmeet's death.
"Even we haven't met our parents, we can't face them, what do we say?" he said.
"We have closed everything, we have disconnected the televisions before we left.
"Right now we have just told them Manmeet is in a coma, he had a very big accident."
Mr Goldy said their village has cancelled their Diwali celebrations, a five-day festival where rows or series of lights are lit to celebrate the triumph of good over bad, as the village mourns in silence.
"The family has gone to the temple to pray in general because of the festival - everyone in the town is watching them but noone is speaking a word," he said.
"Everyone knows in the village except for them."
Mr Goldy said Manmeet, who was a school bus driver before he was a taxi and bus driver, had gained his Australian citizenship just six months prior to his death and had always spoken of justice in Australia.
"Whenever we talk about Australia, he always said it is a country of justice, so we need the government to fulfil his words and hopefully in the future they will do their best," he said.
"We need from the community support, we need the support from the government also and we need a peaceful country so the community of Indians who are staying over here, their security should be good.
"A country like this one, we never expected these things, it can't be happening, but it has."
Amit to take his brother's body back to Indian village
The two men will remain in Australia until Manmeet's body is released to them.
"As soon as the formalities are completed we will take the body back home to India to have the funeral over there," Mr Goldy said.
The pair are expected to meet with Lord Mayor Graham Quirk on Monday to discuss a memorial for Manmeet.
"We demanded a memorial, we are seeing the Lord Mayor tomorrow, we need a memorial at the bus stop, to put his name over there, or at the park," Mr Goldy said.
"Everyone has supported us, so in future also, whatever the direction the case goes, we need the justice from the government."
This story was first published on The Brisbane Times.