'Beyond the word of emotion': Family, friends say goodbye to 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar
It was standing room only at an Etobicoke funeral home as friends and family of Riya Rajkumar said goodbye to the young girl, whose life was tragically cut short on her 11th birthday last week.
Riya, who police allege was abducted and murdered by her father in Brampton on Feb. 14, was remembered by her aunts as a happy child who loved to dance and eat chocolate chip pancakes.
In a eulogy delivered during the Hindu service, which was held at the Lotus Funeral and Cremation Centre on Wednesday morning, Riya was described as a “positive child” who loved life and “saw the good in every situation.”
“Riya was a dreamer who wanted to become a doctor, drive a Lamborghini, and one day own a mansion. She was a little princess who loved dressing up,” Riya’s cousin said while delivering the eulogy, which was written by the little girl’s mother, Priya Ramdin.
Ramdin described her daughter as her “best friend.”
She said Riya was a “dreamer” who wanted to become a doctor one day. She was a fan of Drake and “could beat anyone at a card game of speed,” her mother said.
“She touched a lot of lives with her laughter and contagious big smile. It breaks my heart to know that I will no longer be seeing that smile,” Ramdin wrote.
“She was so excited for her birthday, looking forward to having dinner later that evening. Never did I think that my daughter would not return back to me.”
Speaking to CP24 outside the funeral home on Wednesday morning, Naz Fazal, a distant relative of Riya, described the little girl as “an amazing child” who was “full of energy” and “full of laughter.”
“Words cannot describe what they (Riya’s family) are feeling right now—the loss, the pain, the questions,” Fazal said.
Rose Usman, a friend of Riya's family, told CP24 that the Grade 5 student was "always happy" and "smiling."
"(There was) never a shy moment with her," Usman said.
Riya's kindergarten teacher Samira Kassam, who also attended the funeral, said she "can't imagine" the pain Riya's mother is going through right now.
"It’s heartbreaking to know that a tragedy like this could actually happen to such an innocent girl," Kassam said.
Police previously told reporters that an investigation into Riya's abduction was launched at around 7 p.m. last Thursday night.
Riya, police said, was out celebrating her birthday with her father but did not return to her mother's home at the agreed upon time.
Investigators said the child’s mother notified police and told officers that Riya’s father, 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar, made comments indicating that he planned to harm himself and his daughter.
An Amber Alert was issued for Riya at around 11:30 p.m. A short time later, police confirmed Riya’s lifeless body had been located in her father’s basement apartment in Brampton.
Her father was arrested during a high-risk takedown at around midnight in the area of Highway 11 near Orillia. He has been charged with first-degree murder but remains in hospital while he receives treatment for a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.