Hunt for gun goes on as police focus on hatred behind killing

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detectives investigating the murder of an Indian student said they are treating the shooting as a “hate crime” as they appealed to the local community to help them bring the killer to justice.

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 Boxing Day.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Mulligan, divisional commander for Salford, said yesterday: “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.”

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said a 20-year-old man was arrested early yesterday, while a 16-year-old boy, two boys aged 17 and a 19-year-old man are also being held on suspicion of murder.

Mr Mulligan said the murder weapon, believed to be a small handgun, was still to be been found and pledged there would be “no stone unturned in trying to find those responsible for this awful crime”.

“As yet, we have not recovered the murder weapon and I want to implore people to be brave and come forward if they know the whereabouts of that weapon,” he added.

“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. If you need to, you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously.”

Police have secured a number of addresses in Salford and other parts of Greater Manchester that they have searched and were yesterday in the process of searching.

Forensic and ballistics investigations were being carried out and police were trawling through CCTV while officers continued house-to-house inquiries.

Speaking at a press conference at Greater Manchester Police headquarters, Mr Mulligan offered the force’s condolences to the student’s family, whom he said were going through “unimaginable trauma”.

He added: “There is a dedicated family liaison officer in regular contact with Anuj’s family to keep them fully updated and we are working with the Indian High Commission and other agencies to expedite the family flying over to Manchester in the next few days.”

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

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 him at 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 about 1.35am.

Mr Bidve, who arrived in the UK in September after completing an electronics degree at Pune University. collapsed and 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”.