On Tuesday, students’ eyes welled as they looked at their classmate’s vacant seat at the English Language Teaching Institute of Symbiosis. Iranian Saeid Abdolkhani (25) was killed in Saturday’s German Bakery blast.
“We miss his smiling face. It was difficult to not think about him during class,” said Mohammed Jamil (20) from Yemen.
Abdolkhani had enrolled for the six-month certificate course on January 2. A graduate in petroleum engineering, Abdolkhani wanted to brush up on his English to enroll for his master’s degree from Pune University.
“He spoke English, Persian and Arabic, which would help us when we needed translation,” said Abdulla Dalo (25), his classmate from Ethiopia.
Abdolkhani’s classmates last saw him on Friday afternoon when they went for a college health check-up. He then left for his Koregaon Park residence, where he had recently shifted with cousin Mehti, also his classmate.
On Saturday, Abdolkhani left home saying he wanted to get something, and never returned.
After hearing about the blast, Mehti and his Iranian friend Mohammed Ghanemi (26) spent the entire night looking for Abdolkhani.
They finally identified him the next afternoon from the scars on his back. “Nothing else was left,” Ghanemi said, adding that his death has created a state of unrest among the 4,500-strong Iranian student community in Pune.
“After hearing about Saeid, most of us have got calls from home asking us to return,” said Ghanemi.
Abdolkhani’s body is expected to reach his family in a village in Ahwaz, Iran, on Tuesday night. “His parents are very old and not well-off. It was difficult to organise funds to send the body there,” said Ghanemi.