Prabha’s light shines on for late-night commuters

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A Parramatta Park memorial to techie Prabha Arun Kumar, who lost her life here on the night of 7 March, 2015. NISHA CHAMAN reports

Prabha Arun Kumar memorial.Indian Link

 

On 22 November, Parramatta Park Trust renamed the footpath along Jubilee Avenue “Prabha Arun Kumar Walk” in honour of Indian national Mrs Kumar, a gentle soul who lost her life here in Australia.

The Hills Holroyd Parramatta Community Migrant Resource Centre also unveiled a memorial to Prabha on the occasion.

As well, it was announced, lighting upgrades and other security initiatives have been implemented in the area by Parramatta Council and local police, including four video security cameras at two locations along Jubilee Avenue.

Prabha’s bereaved family was present on the occasion, in a trip made possible by NSW Police. Her husband Arun, 11-year-old daughter Meghana, brother Shankar Shetty and parents, retraced their beloved Prabha’s last footsteps, and paid their respects.

Prabha Arun Kumar memorial.Indian Link

It was clear they were still struggling with the horrific event that has turned life upside down for them. Arun could not make his prepared statement, and the Shettys broke down repeatedly.

Meghana remained stoic through it all; indeed, it was her very stoicism that touched the gathered community most of all.

In happier circumstances, the family would have gathered together a day before, to celebrate Prabha’s 42nd birthday, and enjoy the happiness of a brand new family home.

Still, there must be some comfort for them – if any can be had in the situation – that Prabha’s demise is not in vain. Just like her name, which is Sanskrit for light, she has helped bring in a measure of protection for citizens in her adopted home, as they go about their regular activities.

Parramatta Park Trust Executive Director, Suellen Fitzgerald said at the event, “The establishment of the memorial acknowledges the overwhelming public response to Prabha’s tragic death and offers the opportunity for the community to show its respect. The memorial will pay honour to the memory of Prabha and provide a location where community members can visit to pay their respects.”

The Lord Mayor of Parramatta Cr Paul Garrard said, “It is fitting that Mrs Kumar’s name will live on through this memorial here in our city, which she had adopted as her home.”

At this very location, on a fateful Saturday night just a few months ago, Prabha was speaking to her husband on phone in India. She told him she felt she was being followed. Seconds later, she was fighting off an attacker who stabbed her several times in the neck. She died shortly afterwards.

Prabha-Arun-Kumar.Indian Link

On the campaign trail in mid-March this year, as Mike Baird spoke to Pawan Luthra (March-2 edition of Indian Link), he expressed his horror at the tragic death of Prabha Arun Kumar.

The 41-year-old had been walking back home from Parramatta Station after a double shift.

“We are mourning with the community,” Mr Baird had said then, adding that he had heard the Parramatta community’s missive loud and clear that more lighting and surveillance measures were needed.

“We have proposed that the pathway between Argyle and Amos Streets in Parramatta be bestowed with the name ‘Prabha Arun Kumar Walkway’ as a tribute,” Pawan observed.

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Mr Baird replied. “We want to talk to the family to make sure they’re okay with it, but that would certainly have my full support. I think that would be a wonderful tribute.”

Some eight months later, Arun Kumar continues to be plagued by the question of who did this to Prabha, and why. The community at large asks this question as well. Even those of us who did not know Prabha, understand Shankar Shetty when he says his sister was the kind of person who would not hurt a fly. The gentle Prabha, serene and beautiful in a pink sari, from that oft-used image of hers, is how we know her.

To let her soul rest in peace, to provide solace to her loved ones, and indeed to make our own lives safe on the street, we urge the police to bring the perpetrator to book as soon as possible.

The Premier may have fulfilled a promise to the community, but now we owe the grieving family some closure through justice.