27-year-old Kathua rape protester turns into face of Kolkata squall tragedy

KOLKATA: Ambreen Jawed typified the young, progressive Kolkata woman; her last act on Tuesday was attending an inter-faith candlelit march to protest against the Unnao and rapes.
As in life, so in death: the 27-year-old Calcutta University MPhil student has become the face of the tragedy that struck Kolkata on Tuesday, when she died in an auto-rickshaw — crushed under the weight of a tree felled by the sudden double squall — right in the heart of the city.

Jawed’s and auto driver Manowar Alam’s started the sequence of 13 deaths that occurred in Kolkata and its suburbs between 8 pm and 8.30pm on Tuesday, making it the highest single-day toll in a natural calamity in the city in recent memory.

The 27-year-old, known to be a spirited social activist, had insisted on joining the march in on Tuesday and even rallied together a few friends; she wanted the protest to be “impactful”. “She was one of the last to leave but also wanted to reach home before the heavens opened up,” recalled one of her CU friends. That was the last they heard from her as the auto was reduc-ed to pulp in the middle of Dharmatala Street. Jawed died before she could be moved to , a police station official said.

An alumna of Welland Gouldsmith School and Mother International School, this Virat Kohli fan was equally fluent in English, Urdu and Hindi. But her classmates remember her for her passionate championing of the rights of women victims of abuse; it did not matter whether they were from Kathua or Unnao or even Syria.

Moments before she left home on Tuesday, Ambreen spoke to her family about initiating a sustained movement to put an end to atrocities on women and the marginalised. “These small protests will help us gain momentum and bring about a tangible change in the attitude of our society,” she had said.

Her uncle, Zahid Mahmood, said condolence messages had been pouring in since Wednesday morning as people came to know of her death. “The Unnao and Kathua incidents had affected her deeply. When she heard of the peace protests by the , she decided to go,” Mahmood added.

Her burial happened at the Gobra graveyard after the Esha prayers on Wednesday evening. It was attended by several hundred people who included family, friends, classmates and teachers.

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