Two months after her daughter was reported missing and later found murdered in a river, the mother of Ashanti Riley on Wednesday described the disappearance of Andrea Bharatt as a nightmare coming to life again as the two women were snatched on the same date.
Candice Riley spoke about the similarities between the two women at a United National Congress (UNC) candlelight vigil in Arima held for 23-year-old kidnap victim Andrea Bharatt on Wednesday.
The vigil, organised by the UNC’s Women’s Arm and Arima Central councillor Sheldon Garcia was attended by Bharatt’s cousin Sally Sooman, Riley and the parents of Sharday Emmanuel, who vanished without a trace in 2018.
Bharatt was kidnapped last Friday after she went into a taxi with a co-worker. The co-worker dropped off at Cleaver Heights, Arima. Bharatt never made it home and her body was found in the Heights of Aripo yesterday.
Under the watchful eyes of the police, San Juan/Barataria MP Sadam Hosein, who addressed the gathering, said no one can imagine what Randolph Bharatt, Andrea’s dad, has been enduring.
He said we cannot allow our women to be disrespected.
“We have to stand up. We must take action now,” Hosein said.
Chair of UNC’s Women’s Arm Kenya Charles said the UNC decided to hold the vigil to show the Bharatts and families of missing and murdered women “that we are here for them.”
As the attendees prayed for the safe return of Bharatt, Sooman wept constantly and left the meeting before it ended.
St Augustine MP Khadijah Ameen told Guardian Media the UNC will cooperate with the Government to bring good law to protect women.
Holding back tears, Riley said attending the vigil brought back memories of Ashanti’s death.
Ashanti was last seen boarding a PH taxi in San Juan.
Days later her body was found in a Santa Cruz river.
“Ashanti was last seen on November 29 while Andrea was kidnapped on January 29. The same date...the same way.... they both got into a taxi. There are so many similarities so it’s like reliving the pain and agony all over again. I had to muster the courage to come here because I know it would not have been easy. And it has not been easy for me.”
Riley said every time a woman disappears her heart is shattered.
“I keep telling myself this can’t be happening again. I wanted to reach out to Andrea’s father and tell him I know what he is going through because I was in that same situation....waiting to hear if they find Ashanti. It was hard. No parent should go through this. None!”
When dark falls, Riley said she wondered if Ashanti was cold, hungry and alone.
She said those thoughts would surely enter the mind of Andrea’s father.
“You can’t sleep....eat...drink. All you studying is your child....whether you are going to see her walk through that front door again. It breaks you down.”
Riley said she got closure because Ashanti’s body was found.
Junior Emmanuel, Sharday’s dad, said his stomach churned when he heard about Andrea’s kidnapping.
“It’s like reliving that horrible experience all over again. I know what Andrea’s father is going through. Believe me, it’s a father’s worst nightmare. I never got closure so this has been a never-ending torment to her family and friends.”
This June would mark three years since Sharday went missing.
“Sharday wanted to end a relationship. We found out about all this after she disappeared. She hid this from us.”
Two years ago, Emmanuel said the remains of a body was found in Santa Flora.
“We are still awaiting DNA result to find out if it is Sharday or not.”