The brother of a Brisbane bus driver killed in a fiery attack on Friday arrived this morning on a flight from India to an emotional welcome from the city’s Punjabi community.
Manmeet Alisher, 29, died when an accelerant was allegedly thrown inside the bus, setting him on fire at a Moorooka bus stop.
Mr Alisher’s brother, Amit, declined to speak to waiting media upon his arrival at Brisbane Airport.
Last night, Brisbane Punjabi community leaders said Amit would be taken to the scene of the attack for a special prayer service.
“Manmeet’s elder brother is coming from India, then we will take him to the memorial where this incident happened,” Deepinder Singh told the ABC.
On Saturday night, more than 1,000 people, including cab drivers, bus drivers and members of the community, attended another memorial service to pay tribute to Mr Alisher, following a vigil on Friday night.
Shortly before his departure from India, Amit told the ABC that his family suspected the killing was racially motivated, despite police stating there was no apparent motive for the attack.
He said while the family accepted there was no evidence it was a hate crime, they feared the worst.
“We suspect that it may be [racially motivated],” he said.
“We would like to see due process, we have faith in the Australian system.”
Anthony Mark Edward O’Donohue, 48, appeared in a Brisbane court on Saturday, accused of murder, arson and 11 counts of attempted murder.
Outside court, O’Donohue’s lawyer Adam Magill said his client was “numb”.
“His major concern as far as I’m concerned at this point in time is his mental health, that needs to be assessed,” he said.
He is due to appear in court again next month.
Calls for calm while investigation underway
Police on Friday said there had been “no apparent motive” for the attack.
A close friend of Mr Alisher’s family, Winnerjit Singh, said they would keenly await news of the police investigation.
“On the internet, we read that this senseless, needless [attack] is not racism, this is not a terrorist attack,” Mr Singh said.
“But the issue is … why target Manmeet only? Right now there are a lot of questions in our mind.”
Mr Singh said the family were shocked and saddened by the brutal killing.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s shocking, it’s unbelievable,” he said.
Mr Singh said Mr Alisher was a generous and kind-hearted man who was committed to his community at home and in Australia.
“When guys from Punjab — students — went over there, he always supported them,” he said.
“He had a lot of dreams. Whenever I spoke to him, he said: ‘Brother, I am going to be a leader in Australia’.
“He’s a very good singer, he’s a very good brother, he’s a very good son.”
Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil on Friday night at the scene of the attack in Brisbane, where they placed flowers, lit candles and chanted.
Mr Singh called on Australia’s Punjabi community not to jump to any conclusions about Mr Alisher’s death, and also urged the Australian Government to ensure it was doing everything possible to protect the community.
“Please, be peaceful, be peaceful Australia,” he said.
“I am appealing to your Australian Government, please, always be careful about our community.”