Man charged with the murder of Indian student shot in Salford

Relatives criticise lack of communication as detectives fly out for meeting in India

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The Independent Online

A 20-year-old man has been charged with the murder of an Indian student who was shot in Salford on Boxing Day.

Kiaran Stapleton, from Ordsall, was charged last night with the murder of Anuj Bidve, 23, who was killed while visiting Manchester for a short break over Christmas.

Hundreds of Mr Bidve's friends and supporters were planning to attend memorial ceremonies in Manchester and Delhi today as his family meet investigators for the first time to try to discover why he died.

Officers from Greater Manchester Police flew to India yesterday for a meeting with the Mr Bidve's family. The force has apologised to his parents, who only learnt of the fatal shooting through a posting on their son's Facebook page.

Mr Bidve was part of a group of nine male and female Indian students visiting Manchester.

His brother-in-law, Rakesh Sonawane, said the family would be asking the force for the return of Mr Bidve's body and what evidence police had amassed about the men responsible for the killing. "They have gone very slowly in the last 48 hours," said Mr Sonawane. "We're not getting so many communications from the UK and we don't know what's happening."

Mr Bidve was killed when the group walked from their hotel to Manchester city centre through the inner-city Ordsall district of Salford. Witnesses said that two white men approached the group before one of the men pulled out a gun and shot Mr Bidve in the head, according to Mr Sonawane. Mr Bidve died in hospital a short time later.

"It's very important for us to know why it has happened," said Mr Sonawane from the family's home city of Pune, in Maharashtra state. More than 500 people have said they will attend a candlelit memorial ceremony at the spot where he was killed this evening in Ordsall. Another group will march from a park in Delhi to the British high commission in the Indian capital.

"The most important thing is that this event is just a memorial service to give strength and our support to Anuj's family and pay our tributes to Anuj. So, any hatred messages or actions will not be tolerated," said the event's organiser, Vikrant Gupta.

Mr Bidve's own Facebook site has been blocked and family members in India have asked for the page to be unlocked so that they can receive messages from his friends in Britain.

"His account is very important to all the family members and it's only because of that account that we have come to know what has happened to Anuj," said Mr Sonawane.

Mr Sonawane and Mr Bidve's parents were expected to fly to Britain on Wednesday and to visit his university in Lancaster and the city where he was killed.

Mr Bidve was studying for a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification and was described by tutors as "an outstanding applicant at the very beginning of a promising career".

A senior officer, Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, and a family liaison officer were flying to India yesterday. The family said they expected to meet them today to discuss updates in the case. The police have put up a £50,000 reward to try to find those responsible for the killing.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, who has overall command of the inquiry, said that despite the arrest, the investigation would continue. "As such, we are still asking for the public to contact us with any information they may have and there remains a £50,000 reward outstanding," she said.

Five people have so far been arrested in connection with the murder – which police say they are treating as a hate crime that may have been racially motivated – but the weapon has not been found. A 16-year-old youth, two 17-year-olds and a 19-year-old have all been freed on bail.