Police apologise to victim's father after shooting

 

A police chief apologised today after it emerged that the father of a student blasted to death on Boxing Day found out about his son's murder on Facebook.

Anuj Bidve, 23, was shot in the head at point-blank range as he walked with friends near their hotel in the inner-city Ordsall district of Salford in the early hours of December 26.

The murder of the Indian student is being treated by detectives at Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as a hate crime which may have been racially motivated.

Assistant Chief Constable Dawn Copley, who has overall command for the investigation, confirmed that Subhash Bidve, the victim's father, read a post on the social networking site before officers were able to get in touch to deliver the news first.

She said: "That is not the way anyone should have to find out something so devastating and we completely understand how upset the family are.

"Social networking is instantaneous and we have no control over when and what people post on such sites, but no one should hear such tragic news in this way."

Police said a 16-year-old boy and two 17-year-old boys arrested over the murder have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Two men, aged 19 and 20, remain in custody.

Explaining how Mr Bidve came to find out about his son's death, Ms Copley said: "A family liaison officer was quickly put in place after Anuj's murder who made exhaustive inquiries to try and inform the family and deliver the awful news personally.

"Unfortunately, as the officer was attempting to contact the family through the right channels, a post was put on Facebook.

"Since then, we have had two family liaison officers in regular contact with Anuj's immediate family and those who speak on his behalf to keep them updated about every step of the progress of the investigation.

"Greater Manchester Police is also working very hard to bring the family over to Manchester as soon as possible.

"For reasons beyond the family's control, it is unlikely they will be able to do so until early next week so the force is putting plans in place to send officers to India to offer support."

She extended her sympathies to the family, adding: "This is a despicable and senseless murder that has shocked everyone and the Bidve family are going through something no family should ever have to endure.

"I want to reassure the family that staff across the whole of Greater Manchester Police are working on this investigation night and day to bring those responsible for Anuj's murder to justice."

Earlier, Mr Bidve's father told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Nobody official from the UK Government or consulate or the Indian government called us and told us about this.

"I am really surprised because they confiscated his phone and must have known his father's or mother's number.

"They could have called us and told us what had happened to him."

He called for the authorities in the UK to speed up the process of returning his son's body to his home town of Pune in India.

"That is my only concern. We do not have a specific date or timeframe when it can be done and do not understand it. We find it difficult and it is not accepted.

"In Pune and other places it is assumed that this could be the racism or a hate crime.

"I do not know, my family do not know and the reasons for his killing we do not know."

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan said the murder weapon, believed to be a small handgun, has not been found and appealed for anyone with information about it to come forward.

"As I said from the start, the solution to this, and the way we can solve this murder, this awful murder, is for members of the community to come forward with information.

"They can do that anonymously, but the answer to this issue lies with the community."

He added: "There will be no stone unturned in trying to find those responsible for this awful crime."

Forensic and ballistics investigations are being carried out and police are trawling through CCTV along with house-to-house inquiries.

According to a Facebook page set up in Mr Bidve's memory, he "was killed for not answering a simple question - 'What's the time?"'.

But Mr Mulligan would not disclose what was said between the killer and his victim.

He added: "At the moment all we can say was there was a short conversation. There's no reason to suggest from that conversation that the crime is racially motivated.

"What we are saying is we do not know whether it's racially motivated or not. But by definition we need to treat any incident of this kind where there is a perception that race is involved or hate is involved and categorise it as a hate incident."

Mr Bidve was in a group of nine male and female Indian students visiting Manchester for a short break over the Christmas holidays.

The students, who had not been drinking, were walking through Ordsall from their hotel towards the city centre when they became aware of two men on the other side of the street.

The gunman, a white male in his 20s who was wearing a grey top, walked across the road and engaged the victim in a short conversation before producing the gun and shooting the student at close range to the side of the head.

The killer ran back across the street before the pair fled on foot towards Asgard Drive and the Ordsall housing estate.

Armed response units were sent to the scene at around 1.35am. Mr Bidve died in hospital a short time later.

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

Speaking from Mr Bidve's home town this week, Rakesh Sonawane, 30, who is married to the student's sister Nehal, said the devastated family had "lost faith in everything".

Mr Bidve, who was described as "clever and sporty", arrived in the UK in September after completing an electronics degree at Pune University.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing