Manchester

Anuj Bidve Salford shooting being treated as 'hate crime'

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Media captionChief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan: "The answer to this issue lies within the community"

The fatal shooting of a student in Salford on Boxing Day is being treated as a "hate crime", police have said.

Anuj Bidve was shot in the head at close range in Ordsall Lane.

Mr Bidve, 23, had travelled to the UK from India to study at Lancaster University. He was in Greater Manchester for the festive period.

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of murder - a 20-year-old man and four male teenagers, aged 19, 17, 17 and 16. All are still in custody.

'Be courageous'

Ch Supt Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said: "We have not established a clear motive for the senseless murder of Anuj and there is no definitive evidence pointing to it being racially-motivated.

"However, we are treating this as a hate crime based on the growing perceptions within the community it was motivated by hate.

"Anuj's family deserve to see his killer brought to justice and I want people to think 'what if it was my brother, son, husband or boyfriend who simply went out with friends and was killed?'

"You would want justice and clearly that is what Anuj's family want, so please if you know where the gun is, or you do have information, be courageous and come forward."

Mr Bidve, a postgraduate student in micro-electronics, was described by his family as a "loving son, a super-caring brother and first and forever a friend for many".

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Media captionSuruchi Wagh, Anuj Bidve's cousin, said the family were "extremely shocked" at his killing

Tutors described him as "an outstanding applicant at the very beginning of a promising career".

He had been expected to return to India after completing his studies.

Mr Bidve, from Pune, Maharashtra, was in a group of nine Indian students visiting Greater Manchester over the holidays.

Police said the students, who had not been drinking, were walking from their hotel towards the city centre when the gunman - a white male in his 20s - approached them from the other side of the road.

He had a short conversation with Mr Bidve before producing a gun and shooting him at close range to the side of the head.

The gunman then ran back across the street before he and another male fled on foot towards Asgard Drive and the Ordsall housing estate.

'Peace march'

Mr Mulligan said the murder weapon, believed to be a small handgun, had not been found and appealed for anyone with information to contact the police.

"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 said police had searched, and were still searching, a number of addresses in Salford and other parts of Greater Manchester.

Forensic and ballistics investigations are being carried out and police are trawling through CCTV as well as conducting house-to-house inquiries.

Tributes have been left on Facebook, including one page set up by a fellow Lancaster student, planning for a "peace march" in Mr Bidve's memory in the new year.

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

Police have not disclosed the nature of the conversation between the gunman and Mr Bidve.

Mr Bidve's family is due to fly to Manchester by the end of the week to take his body to India.

A spokesman for the Indian High Commission said officers had visited Greater Manchester to speak to police.

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