London, Dec 30: A fifth youth has been arrested in connection with the killing of Indian student Anuj Bidve in Manchester, while the UK police on Thursday said that though there was no evidence that the murder was racially motivated, they are treating the incident as one “motivated by hate”.
Meanwhile, Indian authorities here launched efforts to repatriate his body back to Pune at the earliest.
The police team in Salford is liaising with the Indian high commission and Bidve's family in Pune.
The family is expected to reach Manchester in the next few days, when his body will be taken to India for final rites.
A 20-year-old man was the fifth person arrested by police which has already rounded up four people, including two teenagers.
The man is being questioned on suspicion of murdering Bidve, who was shot in the head at close range in an “unprovoked” attack on December 26 on Boxing Day.
Chief Superintendent 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”.
The investigating team, he said, had not recovered the murder weapon yet.
The Consulate General of India in Birmingham and the Indian High Commission said that they were “deeply” saddened at the “unfortunate” and tragic killing.
“The concerned authorities have also been suitably sensitised about the family's wish to have the dead body repatriated to India at the earliest,” the High Commission said in a statement today.
Amid an outrage over the incident, a top British parliamentary panel will seek a full report on the circumstances of the attack.
Labour Party MP Keith Vaz, chairman of House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, expressed shock over the incident.
“I will be asking for a full report on the circumstances of his death. Overseas students need to be reassured that the UK has taken every possible step to ensure such a tragic event will not happen again,” said Vaz.
Chief Superintendent Mulligan later said, “What I want to stress is that regardless of the motive, it does not change the way detectives from our Major Incident Team are investigating this murder and from day one we have pursued every possible line of inquiry to identify who is responsible for this despicable crime, including CCTV trawls, detailed forensic and ballistic investigations, witness statements and house-to-house inquiries”.
The investigating team, he said, had not recovered the murder weapon yet. Bidve was shot from close range in the head by a white man who reportedly asked him the time.
Mulligan urged people to contact the police if they had any information about the incident.
He said: “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”.
Meanwhile, local residents and leaders of the Salford City Council expressed disgust over the incident that, they said, had brought shame to their city.
Friends of Bidve have organised a candle march at the spot in Manchester on January 2.
Five people remain custody after being arrested for the killing that has sent shock waves in the Indian student community, particularly those studying in Manchester, Lancaster and Salford.
Parents of Indian students studying here are also reported to be worried about the safety of their wards.
Salford's City Council leader John Merry said: “We urge the community to unite and name the gunman whose actions brought shame on the city. When I heard about it I thought it was horrendous”.
He added: “My biggest concern is the impact on this young man's family. The victim and his friends were just walking into town - as many students would do at this time of the year. I feel too for the young man's friends who have witnessed this - just imagine the trauma they are going through as well.”
“Local residents upset over the killing have also announced their participation in the January 2 March in the Ordsall area.
Norman Owen, leader of Salford's Liberal Democrats, said: “This is a disgrace. It is heartbreaking and unbelievable. What kind of city are we living in when we have a young man walking on the street with a gun and is ready to use it.”
Amit Kapadia, Executive Director of the HSMP Forum, told PTI: “Such an incident shows the country in bad light and is highly condemnable. It is wrong and the miscreants should face the consequences of such a heinous crime”.
He added: “It highlights the need for a more stringent policing so that people especially students and migrant workers who come here with aspirations feel safe on the UK streets. We have full confidence in the police and the government that they are looking into the matter closely”.
Local residents said the tragedy did not reflect their neighbourhood.