News headlines

Courtesy: Daily News and Analysis (MB)
Mumbai / Washington, Apr 19: While a pall of gloom hangs over the Virginia Tech campus, the authorities at Mumbai’s Rizvi College of Architecture, where Minal Panchal studied for five years before going to the US, have come up with a thoughtful way to remember their student.

In memoriam: Minal Panchal (left) with her sister and nephew. Rizvi College is planning a children's museum at Borivli to remember her

The college, which has organised a condolence meeting today, plans to approach the state government to build a children’s museum in Borivli, an idea Minal had expressed in her thesis, which is still considered the best in the college. “A child is like wet mud, gets shaped as one moulds it. To have ideals of excellence, a stimulative environment is needed, an environment of freedom, open-mindedness, playfulness and creativity,” she had written in her thesis, ‘Children’s Museum in Borivli’.

Principal Akhtar Chauhan said: “We will talk to the BMC and other authorities to let us build a children’s museum in Borivli. We will provide all the technical expertise and assistance. It was her dream and we will fulfil it.”

As for Minal’s friends at Rizvi, they are too shocked to react to her death. “We were together in college for five years. I can’t believe she is gone,” said Faizan Khatri, a classmate. Her teachers remember her as a shy but jovial girl, who was excellent when it came to making structures. “She would have made an outstanding architect,” said Professor Pradnya Chauhan. “One of my best students. I taught her for two years. It was sheer fate that she was attending a lecture at the time of the shooting. Two of her friends, who are also from our college and students of Virginia Tech, did not attend lectures that day.”

In the US, Minal’s sister, Kavita Suratkal, and their mother maintained a dignified silence, refusing to speak to the media about their loss. “It is a personal matter,” Kavita told DNA. “I would not like to talk about Minal with the media.” Kavita, who lives in New Jersey with her husband, is at Virginia Tech along with her mother since Monday night.

Minal’s best friend and classmate in the US, Bharati Karmarkar, who is also a Mumbai resident, said: “I’m in no condition to talk right now. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to talk about Minal’s death to anyone.”

Aseem Deshpande, 21, a computer science student at Virginia Tech and a close friend of Minal,  said after watching the Leonardo diCaprio-starrrer Blood Diamond, Minal pledged never to buy diamonds from Africa, said Despande. “That’s how she was… extremely passionate about everything. It will be difficult to cope with this loss.” 

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