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Bus driver Manmeet Sharma's parents not told of son's horrible death in Moorooka fire

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by October 30, 2016 General
The news of Manmeet Sharma's horrible death had been kept from his parents In India. Photo: Supplied

The news of Manmeet Sharma’s horrible death had been kept from his parents In India. Photo: Supplied

Amit Alisher, the brother of bus driver Manmeet Sharma who was burnt to death in his bus on Friday morning, told Fairfax Media on Saturday that his parents have no idea of Alisher’s brutal killing. 

Speaking from Singapore airport where he was waiting for a connecting flight to Brisbane on Saturday afternoon, Amit returned a call on WhatsApp, his brother’s smiling face flashing onto the phone screen.

He sobbed as he explained why he had not told his parents: “They are too old – my father is 70 – they won’t be able to take it. I have told them he is in hospital after getting hurt in a road accident and that’s why I am going to see him in Brisbane,” Amit said.

On hearing this, his parents urged him to hurry up and catch the first flight out to be with his brother (who is also known as Manmeet Alisher). 

All the relatives have maintained the same fiction in the presence of Manmeet’s parents. The parents were told that the cable connection wasn’t working as an explanation for why no one was turning on the television.

“My aunts, uncles and cousins are being very careful,” he said.

“They are not visiting at the same time to avoid alarming them but it’s hard to keep villagers away.” 

Manmeet was booked to visit the family home at their village in Sangrur in Punjab, north India, on 15 December.

This visit was going to be special because the family had found a bride for him and were hoping to fix a date for the wedding in January, although the date would have to depend on when he could get leave from his bus driving job.  

“We are going to have to break the news to my parents gradually,” Amit said.

Amit Alisher, the brother of bus driver Manmeet Sharma who was burnt to death in his bus on Friday morning, told Fairfax Media on Saturday that his parents have no idea of Alisher’s brutal killing. 

Speaking from Singapore airport where he was waiting for a connecting flight to Brisbane on Saturday afternoon, Amit returned a call on WhatsApp, his brother’s smiling face flashing onto the phone screen.

He sobbed as he explained why he had not told his parents: “They are too old – my father is 70 – they won’t be able to take it. I have told them he is in hospital after getting hurt in a road accident and that’s why I am going to see him in Brisbane,” Amit said.

On hearing this, his parents urged him to hurry up and catch the first flight out to be with his brother (who is also known as Manmeet Alisher). 

All the relatives have maintained the same fiction in the presence of Manmeet’s parents. The parents were told that the cable connection wasn’t working as an explanation for why no one was turning on the television.

“My aunts, uncles and cousins are being very careful,” he said.

“They are not visiting at the same time to avoid alarming them but it’s hard to keep villagers away.” 

Manmeet was booked to visit the family home at their village in Sangrur in Punjab, north India, on 15 December.

This visit was going to be special because the family had found a bride for him and were hoping to fix a date for the wedding in January, although the date would have to depend on when he could get leave from his bus driving job.  

“We are going to have to break the news to my parents gradually,” Amit siad.

“I’m scared my father will have a heart attack. First I’m going to say his condition has worsened and then….(he breaks down crying)…then I will have to tell them that Manmeet has gone,’ Amit said. 

Manmeet started his new job as a bus driver with Brisbane City Council a few months ago. On Friday, a man boarded the bus outside a Moorooka bakery and set him alight, to the horror of other passengers who managed to escape. He burned to death. 

Bus drivers with black armbands, members from the Punjabi community and the wider community gathered to pay their respects to Manmeet Sharma on Saturday. Photo: Amy Mitchell-Whittington

Bus drivers with black armbands, members from the Punjabi community and the wider community gathered to pay their respects to Manmeet Sharma on Saturday. Photo: Amy Mitchell-Whittington

The 29-year-old moved to Australia about nine years ago on a student visa. A part-time singer in Brisbane, he was also well known in his home town because he used to sing at weddings and political functions.

‘I just want to bring my brother’s body home’ 

Amit was full of praise for his brother’s generosity and compassion whenever an Indian newcomer to Australia from Punjab needed help to find their feet.

“Over the past seven years, he helped about 100 young Punjabi men who arrived in Brisbane,” Amit said.

“He used to pick them up from the airport, put them up in his home, help them with college admissions and jobs. He used to help with money too. He was like a social worker.”

As a mark of respect, many of the men he helped to settle into life in Australia were at a vigil for Manmeet in Moorooka on Saturday, and will be at Brisbane airport to meet Amit on Sunday.   

Asked if he thought a racial motive might have been behind his brother’s murder, Amit said he had no idea.

“I have to wait ’til the police tell me everything. At the moment, I don’t know anything,” he said.

“At the moment I just want to bring my brother’s body home as soon as I can.”

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