• Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Cheistha wanted to change lives, says family of Indian girl killed in London

Cheistha Kochhar, who was pursuing her PhD at the London School of Economics, died after her cycle collided with a lorry on Clerkenwell Road in central London

Picture for representation (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

THE family of a cyclist who died following a road accident said the London School of Economics (LSE) student wanted to “bring all her expertise back to India to change lives”.

Cheistha Kochhar, who was pursuing her PhD in behavioural research, died following a collision involving a refuse lorry on Clerkenwell Road near the junction with Farringdon Road in central London last Tuesday (19) evening.

“Cheistha’s deep intelligence and passions were belied by her sprightly demeanour and the consummate ease with which she eased people out of their shells to make friends with her,” the family said.

“She always had a hug to spare for anyone and she lived her life with the principle that it was more important to be the kindest person in the room, than to be the smartest person in the room.”

Kochar, who was from Bareilly, north India, came to LSE after working on a range of roles including in business start-ups and with various government bodies in her home country.

“In spite of her experience as a practitioner and an executive, she had the heart of an academic, having worked and collaborated with Nobel laureates,” her family said.

“She had also started a couple of start-ups, first as an undergraduate to distribute excess food from college canteens to the needy and later to create opportunities for the unemployed underprivileged section of the New Delhi society.

“She also worked with McKinsey and the University of Chicago and last worked at NITI Aayog of India (formerly the Planning Commission), where she established the National Behavioural Insights Unit of India as a senior advisor. All this happened before she turned 32.

“Even though these were early stages of her PhD, she was sure to work on studying and improving collaboration between various pro-social organisations to tackle the grand challenges that countries from the global south face. She was an ardent patriot and wanted to bring all her expertise back to India to change lives.”

Kochhar moved to London last April with her software engineer husband Prashant Gautam.

“I am still in London trying to collect the remains of my daughter, Cheistha Kochhar,” her father lieutenant general Dr SP Kochhar, director general at the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said in a post on LinkedIn.

“It has devastated us and her large circle of friends,” he said, along with a link to an online memorial page created in her memory.

There have been no arrests a week after the incident, the Metropolitan Police said.

Officers said enquiries into the circumstances of the collision are ongoing as they continued to appeal for witnesses and for any road users with dashcam footage from the scene to come forward.

“Cheistha was cycling when she was involved in a collision with a refuse lorry – the lorry stopped at the scene and the driver is helping police with their enquiries. There has been no arrest and enquiries into the circumstances continue,” the Met Police said.

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