The blast took place close to the table as the group of Janata Dal (Secular) workers from Karnataka sat for breakfast at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, one of the major targets of the deadliest terror strikes in the island nation’s history, their family members said in Bengaluru on Monday.
A leisure trip to Sri Lanka after a rigorous campaign for the Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka proved fatal to the group, as death of at least six of them has been confirmed in the serial blasts that ripped through the island nation on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people.
“Last morning while checking-in around 8 am, they had gone for breakfast and blast took place very close to their table,” a relative of Shivakumar, one of the victims of the blasts, said.
Shivakumar was one of the missing names shared by Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy in a tweet earlier Monday.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry later in the evening confirmed Shivakumar’s death.
“Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has confirmed the death of one more individual – H Shivakumar – in the blasts yesterday, taking the total number of Indian deaths in the tragedy to 8 till now,” High Commission of India in Colombo tweeted. The same has been re-tweeted by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“Due to the blast Hanumantharayappa and Rangappa have died on the spot, while others are at hospital is what we have come to know so far. We are leaving for Colombo…..” the relative said.
Out of seven staying at Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, state government has received information about death of five- Ramesh, K M Lakshminarayan, M Rangappa, K G Hanumantharayappa, and Narayan Chandrashekar, Karnataka Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar said before Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry’s tweet confirming the death of Shivakumar.
“Soon after reaching Colombo they have called home to inform that he has reached, shortly after that the incident should have happened…. normally he used to go for trip with friends, this time after election for relaxation he had gone, this has happened,” Shivakumar’s relative said as he broke down.
Sister in-law of Puttaraju, another name that figured among those missing, not wishing to share her name, said the family has no information about him yet.
“He was associated with JD(S) and had left on Saturday night along with friends just for relaxing as election was over, he was about to come back on April 24, but this has happened probably some time after they have reached there. We are waiting for information,” she said.
A few relatives of those dead and missing have left for Colombo, JD(S) sources said.
The Chief Minister in a series of tweets said, all victims were JD(S) workers from Karnataka and were on a tour to Sri Lanka.
“I am deeply pained at the loss of their lives in the heinous attack. They were also committed workers of our party and their death has brought immense sorrow to us,” he said, adding that he was with the families of the deceased.
The Chief Secretary said he has requested the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka to send the bodies at the earliest.
A nodal officer has been appointed at the High Commissioner’s officer for Karnataka tourists, he said, adding that a few from the state had gone to Kandy and were on their way back.
“There is no other missing information as of now,” he added.
The workers had campaigned in Bangalore North and Chikkaballapur constituencies, JD(S) sources said.
Razeena Khader, the Keralite woman who died the blast, was about to check out from the Shangri-La hotel after a week’s stay with her husband when the explosion occurred, a relative said in Mangaluru.
As her husband had to leave urgently for Dubai, Razeena saw him off at the airport in the morning and came back to the hotel, Usman, her brother-in-law, told reporters.
The couple, who are settled in Dubai, had gone to Colombo to meet Razeena’s relatives there. She was planning to stay at her brother’s house in Colombo for a day before returning to Dubai, he said.
Razeena’s husband Abdul Khader is a native of Baikampady near Suratkal in the city. The two had come to their house here only a month back, Usman said.
The couple has two children, Fara and Khanfar, who are settled in the US, he said.
Her husband, who learnt about the shocking news on reaching Dubai, returned to Colombo by the night flight Sunday. Their children are expected to reach Colombo, he said. Khader’s family members have also left for Colombo, Usman said.
Razeena belongs to a family from Mogral Puthur in Kerala’s Kasaragod district. Her father P S Abdulla, who had migrated to Sri Lanka decades back and was doing business there, had died three years ago. Many of her relatives are settled in Colombo.
Steps were being taken to bring back Razeena’s body as soon as possible, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Sunday.
“The NORKA (Department of Non-resident Keralites Affairs) authorities are in touch with the High Commissioner’s office and the relatives,” Vijayan said in a release.
Seven suicide bombers believed to be members of an Islamist extremist group carried out a series of blasts that tore through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing 290 people in the country’s worst terror attack, authorities said Monday.