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Residents of Biche participate in a candlelight vigil in the community on Wednesday night.

by Shaliza Hassanali

Andrea Bharatt will be given her final farewell today amidst a public outcry over her tragic death.

Sally Sooman, Andrea’s cousin who has been painfully organising funeral arrangements, said today will be akin to a state funeral as “an entire country will weep and mourn” for a young woman who touched many hearts in the last two weeks.

Sooman said Andrea’s shocking kidnapping and murder created a tipping point for the country.

“What happened in the last week has been unprecedented. We are not in disbelief. It was an overwhelming feeling to see an entire nation stood with us sending a message that we have had enough with crime and murders. We somehow expected this to happen because Andrea is not a normal child.”

Sooman said that for people to get swift justice, the entire judicial system has to change.

“The laws have to change we need to feel safe.”

However, she believes that “out of evil cometh good.”

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FLASHBACK: Andrea Bharatt and her father Randolph at their Arima home following her graduation from the University of the West Indies.

Andrea, 23, a clerk at the Arima Magistrate’s Court was last seen boarding a taxi in Arima on January 29 and her decomposing body was discovered on February 4 in the Heights of Aripo.
Sooman said the family is expecting a large turnout at the funeral service and house of mourning in Arima.

“We are asking mourners to wear pink and white as we send Andrea to her final resting place.”
Among those listed to pay their respects at the family’s home are Police Commissioner Gary Griffitth, Lopinot/Bon Air West MP Marvin Gonzales and Arima MP Pennelope Beckles-Robinson.
Sooman said several artistes will also honour Andrea in song, among them Dil-E-Nadan lead singer Raymond Ramnarine.

“Andrea’s casket will be closed,” Sooman said.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Princes Town MP Barry Padarath will be in attendance at the service.

Sooman said after Andrea’s body will be cremated at Belgrove’s Funeral Home in Tacarigua then her family will gather at the nearby Eddie Hart Grounds to pray and support each other.

“We want people to join us and at 6 pm we will release lighted lanterns into the sky which will guide Andrea’s soul to eternal rest,” she said.

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Sally Sooman cousin of Andrea Bharatt is escorted by police officers after viewing Bharatt’s body after it was discovered in the heights of Aripo two weeks ago.

An hour later a motorcade will proceed around the Red House where Andrea’s father Randolph Bharatt along with family members will give thanks to the nation for their outpouring of support, words of encouragement and love during their difficult period.

“We want to see the parents and family members of kidnapped and murder victims in their numbers. I want uncle to see they are still living and there is still hope after you lose someone dear and close to you,” Sooman said.

She added the world is looking on as they have been “having candlelight vigils in America, Boston and Holland.”

Andrea’s cousin also took the time to dismiss reports that the family had requested a second private autopsy.

On Tuesday, the first private autopsy done by pathologist Hubert Daisley showed that Andrea died from massive internal haemorrhaging after she was struck on the head with a blunt object that caused her to fall back and crack her skull.

CNC3 will also bring live coverage of the funeral service.

Funeral schedule:

9 am­—Arrival of the body at the house of mourning at 110 Arima Old Road, Arima.
10 am—Body leaves house of mourning and proceeds to Arima Magistrate’s Court where Andrea’s worked.
10.30 am—Hearse proceeds along O’Meara Road and exits onto the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Arima, in westerly direction. Turns right onto Trincity Central Road (by Trincity Mall) and left onto Eastern Main Road, Arouca.
11.30 am—Body arrives at Faith Assembly Church, Arouca Junction for funeral service.
1.30 pm—Hearse leaves church and proceeds to Belgrove Funeral Home, Tacarigua, for cremation at 2 pm.
2.30 pm—Family, friends and mourners converge at the Eddie Hart Ground, Tacarigua.
6 pm—Lighted lanterns released in the air.
7 pm—Motorcade leaves Eddie Hart Grounds for Red House, Port-of-Spain, where Andrea’s family gives thanks to nation for outpouring of support.