Drew holds somber vigil for missing international student

MISSING: Drew University junior Ajay Sah. Screenshot by Jamie Lynn Connors
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By Jamie Lynn Connors

With candles and meditations, music and poems, Drew University students and staff held out hope Wednesday for Ajay Sah, a junior from Nepal who was reported missing nearly two weeks ago.

“We are not alone, and Ajay is not alone,” Chaplain Tanya Linn Bennett said during the virtual “Circle of Hope” ceremony. “No matter where Ajay is right now, he is surrounded by us.”

Drew Chaplain Tanya Linn Bennett leads virtual meditation at ‘Circle of Hope’ service, Feb. 3, 2021. Screenshot by Jamie Lynn Connors

Sah, 22, was last seen at approximately 8 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2021, leaving campus to board an NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City, according to the Madison Police Department. He was reported missing by Drew University on Jan. 22.

He has been active in many facets of life at the Methodist liberal arts school, where he is majoring in math with a minor in physics. A resident adviser to his dorm, Sah also is a familiar face at Tilghman House, where he is an ambassador of sorts to his fellow international students.

Virtual ‘Circle of Hope’ service at Drew, Feb. 3, 2021. Screenshot by Jamie Lynn Connors.

“Ajay has been a vibrant part of our campus community since his arrival to Drew, with his infectious smile and ever-present enthusiasm,” said Laura Arthur, director of international students.

“Whether you are a student, faculty member, staff, alumni, or a member of our greater Drew community in Madison or throughout the world, we’ve all felt the void created by Ajay’s absence,” said Frank Merckx, dean of students, Title IX coordinator and vice president of campus life and student affairs.

The online event briefly was interrupted by a “Zoom Bomber,” a faceless individual who shared a vulgar song and inappropriate messages in the public chat.

The crude display came to a halt when students began speaking out for Sah.

Drew Student Government President Kareena Salvi expresses hope for missing student Ajay Sah, Feb. 3, 2021. Screenshot by Jamie Lynn Connors

Student Government President Kareena Salvi encouraged students to spread a flyer created by police on social media (#HelpFindAjaySah), and to share the GoFundMe page created by Sah’s brother, Shiva Sah, to help cover the costs of the investigation and their parents’ flight to New Jersey.

Salvi also asked students to tag New York news channels and broadcasters, such as Trevor Noah.

Merckx commended these efforts.

“Because of the effort of his brother, friends, staff, student government, community members and others, far and wide people know about Ajay and are sharing his image, his description and a plea for information,” he said. “Yet still he remains missing.”

Anyone with information that could assist investigators is urged to contact Madison police Detective Ryan Dunn, 973-593-3000.

The school is offering counseling to students shaken by Sah’s disappearance. Students should reach out to Drew staff members with any concerns, Bennett said.

“You are not alone,” Bennett reiterated. “Ajay is not alone.”

Drew University held a ‘Circle of Hope’ virtual service for missing student Ajay Sah, Feb. 3, 2021. Screenshot by Jamie Lynn Connors

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