Second teenager arrested over Salford shooting

 

A second teenager has been arrested in connection with the shooting of an Indian student as he visited a city with friends.

Anuj Bidve, 23, was gunned down at point-blank range as he walked with friends near their hotel in Salford, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of yesterday.

Greater Manchester Police said a 16-year-old boy was arrested today on suspicion of murder. Earlier a 17-year-old boy was held on suspicion of murder following the execution of an arrest warrant in Salford.

Both youths remain in custody for questioning.

Anuj, who was studying for a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification at Lancaster University, was part of a group of nine male and female Indian students visiting Manchester for a short break over the Christmas holidays.

Police said the students, who had not been drinking, were walking from their hotel towards the city centre and 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 then 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.

Anuj, from Pune, Maharashtra, collapsed to the ground and died at hospital a short time later.

Speaking from Pune earlier today, Anuj's brother-in-law Rakesh Sonawane, 30, who is married to the student's sister Nehal, said the devastated family had "lost faith in everything".

Anuj had arrived in the UK in September after completing an electronics degree at Pune University.

"Anuj had been very happy. It was his dream to go to the UK but unfortunately his dream could not last longer than three months," Mr Sonawane said.

He added that Anuj had planned to return to India "to serve his nation" following the postgraduate studies in Lancaster.

The student was described as "clever and sporty", and a fan of football, supporting Manchester United.

Mr Sonawane added: "He loved to travel and make friends. He had lots of friends. You only have to look at his Facebook page to see how many friends and followers he had.

"We have completely lost faith in everything."

He added that the family have received lots of messages of support, especially from the Indian student community in Lancaster.

They have spoken to some of those who were with Anuj when he was killed and said the eight students have now returned to the university.

"They are equally disturbed and shocked," the brother-in-law said.

Tributes have been left on Facebook, including one page set up by a fellow Lancaster student which plans a "peace march" in the young man's memory.

According the page, set up by Sonakshi Saran, Anuj "was killed for not answering a simple question - What's the time?"

GMP have not disclosed what was said during the short conversation between the killer and his victim.

The student's father, Subhash, a branch manager with an energy company, has called on the UK government to speed up the process of returning Anuj's body to the UK.

In a message on his son's Facebook wall, he said: "Please help in getting Anuj Bidve's dead body back to India. He was shot in Manchester today morning. We appeal to all his friends in UK and India to help spread the word. Please help us get Anuj back. Please share this message."

Mr Sonawane said he had tried to contact the Indian High Commission in London but it has been shut for Christmas.

He added: "We are asking the UK government and the Indian Embassy to expedite the return of Anuj's body to his family at the earliest opportunity."

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said it was an "awful" attack and pledged to "leave no stone unturned" in the hunt for the killer.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said yesterday a racial motive for the killing was not being ruled out, adding: "We are investigating every possible aspect."

Professor Bob McKinlay, deputy Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: "Anuj Bidve was studying for a postgraduate degree in micro-electronics at Lancaster University.

"He was an outstanding applicant at the very beginning of a promising career and had only been at Lancaster for a short time.

"We are deeply saddened by his loss and our thoughts are with his family and friends and we will do all we can to support them at this sad time."

Professor McKinlay has visited some of the students who were with Anuj, and offered to assist them by postponing exams and providing other means of support, the university said.

It will also offer Anuj's family help with the costs of repatriation of the student's body.

Anyone with information is asked to call the incident room on 0161 856 5448 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

PA