On Monday 26 December, 2011, Anuj Bidve, a 23 year old Indian student from Pune, was shot dead at point blank range, as he walked with friends near their hotel in Salford, Greater Manchester, UK. Witnesses reported that the killing was without provocation; apparently, the killer had stopped Anuj and had asked him the time and despite a polite response shot him in the head and ran away. Anuj's father said that the family first got to know of the terrible tragedy, via Facebook.
The incident, which is now being seen as a hate crime by the local authorities, has fired the racism debate once again. Netizens across India and the UK have reacted strongly to the murder.
A section of the Tweeple, both from the UK as well as India, expressed sorrow and sympathy at the incident.
@ciarandearden: The more I hear about the tragic murder of Anuj Bidve, the more disgusted I am by this heinous crime.
@MissLButtercup: To the family of Anuj Bidve I am ashamed this has happened in my country.
@LolaMariachi: Just back to Salford Quays after Christmas. Sad to see flowers up for Anuj and TV Vans parked up. Sad times.
@MichaelPayneUK Michael Payne My thoughts are with family & friends of Anuj Bidve, 23yr old Lancaster Uni PG student who was killed in an attack in Salford yesterday
@super_bhav: My thoughts go out to the family of #anuj #bidve so sorry for your loss #salford #shooting #mindless #violence
Others however, also expressed outrage at what they felt was the tragic outcome of a racist attack. There was a strong call for bringing the culprits to book as soon as possible and mete out strong punishment that would act as a deterrent in the future.
@shekharkapur: #Anuj Bidve's random killing in UK is a disgusting racist attack tht needs 2 b condemned. Whts happenin 2 British Society?
@tomilis: Sad to see death of Anuj Bidve in Manchester. World isn't safe for those with our skin colour anymore it seems…
@loserSamay:The killing of #Anuj in Manchester must be condemn and the culprits must be sentenced.i thought racist attack in Britain was thing of past.
@AmitabhTiwari:#Anuj Bidve's killing proves that only Indians follow the philosophy of atithi devo bhavah! (a guest is like God)
@scutts:What a cowardly act to shoot Indian student #Anuj #Bidve. Hope the scum are caught quick. #bringbackhanging
@davidmonkton: David Monkton Remember the family and friends of Anuj Bidve. His death in Salford makes us ALL sad that ‘crimes of hatred’ take place in our country
@OwenJones84: The horrendous murder of Anuj Bidve is being treated as a hate crime. No rest until all forms of racism are driven from our society
@chet_a_chet: The killing an Indian student Anuj Bidve in UK is being called a “hate Crime” here by the media. It was clearly a racial murder.
@dhulston:After riots we pulled together we need the same approach to clear the city of this scum. Action against #racism
The police have already made a couple of arrests and have appealed to the community for their support in solving the case. They have also announced a reward against information on the killers. That there is support for the police investigation from the local community that feels shamed at this turn of events is evident from this tweet:
@Bethel76: I am proud to live in Salford. The shooting of Anuj Bidve is a terrible crime. The police have support of the communities. #prayforhisfamily
The topic of racism is being discussed and debated in forums and on Facebook as well. For example, in the forum YouBihar, Chalu Chamar writes:
It seems racism is still rampant in Modern British Society otherwise we would not be reading such news.
While some have been quick to generalize and paint the entire British society with the same brush, there are also other voices which offer a more moderate and balanced point of view on the issue of racism. For example, Sumit Ranjan comments in the above-mentioned forum discussion:
My tributes to the innocent Indian killed. May God give strength and courage to his family, friends and loved ones to bear this great loss. On the topic, sadly, racism does exist in England. I have personally faced it on few occasions and I will not deny it. But, at the same time, I would also like to say that the majority of the people are not racists. I have got many British friends who stood up for me and even fought some weirdo who had passed some racist comments at me recently in a pub and was trying to act smart. And btw, are we saying racism doesn't exist in India? That would be dishonest too… In my view, it’s a common problem.. but the extent of it may be different in different countries..
The debate as well as the investigation into the killing continues. In the meantime, Anuj's family is leaving no stone unturned to try and get his body back to India for performing his last rites.