UK Police Share Family Tribute To Indian PhD Student Killed In London

The police said Kochhar was pursuing her PhD in behavioural research at the London School of Economics.


The Metropolitan Police in London on Tuesday officially named a former NITI Aayog employee Cheistha Kochhar as the 33-year-old woman who was killed in a road collision in north London while she cycled back home from London School of Economics (LSE).

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

The police said Kochhar, who was pursuing her PhD in behavioural research at the LSE, died following a collision involving a refuse lorry on Clerkenwell Road near the junction with Farringdon Road on March 19 evening.

The force said enquiries into the circumstances of the collision are ongoing as officers continue 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.

The police also released a statement on behalf of Cheistha Kochhar’s family, which praises her “deep intelligence” and “sprightly demeanour” which won her many friends.

“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. In the short span she had on this planet, she touched tens of thousands of people in extremely meaningful ways and the magnitude of this loss is incomprehensible,” the family tribute reads.

Cheistha was born in Bareilly in 1990 and graduated high school from the Convent of Jesus and Mary, New Delhi. After graduating from Delhi University with a BA in Economics and Mathematics in 2008, she went on to finish the PGP in Liberal Arts as a Young India Fellow from Ashoka University and then did another post-graduation from the University of Chicago in International Development and Policy (MAIDP).

“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 Planning Commission), where she established the National Behavioural Insights Unit of India as a Senior Advisor. All this happened before she turned 32,” the family statement shares.

“In spite of her experience as a practitioner and an executive, she had the heart of an academician, having worked and collaborated with Nobel laureates, and she finally came to London as a PhD Scholar in LSE. 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,” it concludes.

Earlier, former NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant took to social media to shower praise on Kochhar, who had moved from Gurugram to London in September last year to enroll as a Doctorate Candidate at the LSE.

Kant said: “Cheistha Kochhar worked with me on the #LIFE [Lifestyle for the Environment] programme in NITI Aayog. She was in the #Nudge unit and had gone to do her PhD in behavioural science at LSE. Passed away in a terrible traffic incident while cycling in London. She was bright, brilliant & brave and always full of life. Gone away too early. RIP.” Kochhar served as Senior Advisor at the National Behavioural Insights Unit of India for nearly two years until April last year, before moving to London with her software engineer husband Prashant Gautam.

“I am still in London trying to collect the remains of my daughter, Cheistha Kochhar. She was run over by a truck on 19 March while cycling back from LSE, where she was doing her PhD,” her father Lieutenant General Dr S P Kochhar, Director General at the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said in an emotional 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.

The memorial page opens with a quote from Cheistha, which reads: “What we create should last longer than we do,” and is followed by several moving tributes posted by friends and family.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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