x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Hurt of young couple's death lingers for friends

The 'madly in love' Karama couple were gunned down in the Oberoi hotel, orphaning two children.

Mohit and Lavina Harjani were killed at the Oberoi hotel.
Mohit and Lavina Harjani were killed at the Oberoi hotel.

DUBAI // A year ago today, Mohit and Lavina Harjani were on their annual trip to India and having dinner at the Oberoi Trident hotel in Mumbai when armed men stormed the building, firing indiscriminately. The Indian couple, residents of Karama, Dubai, were among the dozens of people who died. Yesterday, as friends remembered them, their family were still trying to come to terms with their loss.

"Mohit and Lavina were simply a great couple. They knew how to live and inspired many around them," said Pavan Sikka, who described himself as Mr Harjani's closest friend. Mr Harjani, 38, had lived in Dubai for several years and established himself in the property business as a partner in Dreams R Us Real Estate. "He was a big influence on everyone and his loss was a big shock," said the Dubai-based Mr Sikka.

Within weeks of the attack, the couple's children and extended family returned to Mumbai. Their children Armaan, 10, and Dev, five, now live with grandparents. Mr Sikka said he was in constant contact with the family in Mumbai, and Mr Harjani's parents remained shaken by the murders. "His father is still very emotional as Mohit was their only son. They are coping with the loss and are now trying to bring up the children."

Colleagues and friends said Mr Harjani enjoyed life and was devoted to his 37-year-old wife and their children. "It was really 'live life king-size' when it came to him," said Hitesh Lalchandani, a colleague and former classmate. "It's a loss that can never be filled. He had a big heart and he always wanted others to be part of his life. "Mohit was crazy about his wife. They were madly in love. "The family was so happy in Dubai. It is just tragic how this was destroyed."

Nearly 200 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the Mumbai attacks. Hiro Harjani, Mohit's uncle who runs a garment company in the UK, was very vocal about the terrorist attacks: "Nothing can get Mohit and Lavina back. Their kids have to live without parents. It's an extremely tragic situation." He added: "I don't care how great the India story is, the Indian government is absolutely to be blamed for such lack of security and the corruption within their politicians."

He had planned to move to India after the tragedy but now says he will never do so. "I have lost faith in my country of birth." pmenon@thenational.ae