London: The New Year has begun with bad news
for Indians in Britain, mainly of the crime variety, with
members of the community figuring prominently in murders and
deaths, starting with the fallout of the unprovoked killing of
Anuj Bidve, a day after Christmas.
As Bidve`s killing sent shock waves among parents
in India whose children are currently studying here, or are
considering sending them here from the next academic year, at
least three more high profile cases turned Indian journalists
based here into crime reporters during the last two weeks.
Britain is considered one of the safest places to
study or live, and university officials have exerted to
reassure Indians students and parents of their safety.
Efforts are continuing to ensure that the Bidve
killing does not lead to less applications from potential
students in India and elsewhere at a time when deep funding
cuts makes income from international students vital for the
survival of subjects departments in many universities.
As Bidve`s family visited the spot of his killing
in Salford, an unnamed Asian was subjected to group and racial
assault during an attempted robbery nearby on January 3.
The Asian ran off after being assaulted by the person
on the bike, but the group chased him and later all four
assaulted him. He was punched about the head and subjected to
racist abuse, the police said.
The Greater Manchester Police, whose handling of
the Bidve killing has been appreciated by the family and
others, remained busy with another incident, when a British
Asian of Indian-origin, Gurdeep Hayer, was reported missing
since January 2.
He had travelled from West Bromwich to Manchester to
celebrate New Year eve with friends. More than a week after he
was reported missing, as friends and family put up posters in
Manchester to help trace him and the police scoured CCTV
footage, Hayer`s body was found in River Medlock in the city
Another recent case that shocked the Indian community was
the double murder last week of Birmingham-based Avtar Singh
Kolar and his wife Carole Kolar. Their bodies were found by
their police officer son, Jason Kolar, from their house in a
locality described as `posh`.
There was a grim irony behind the couple`s murder
because they reportedly sold a house in Goa because they
worried that India was `unstable`.
There are now little signs of stability outside their
house, where a police tent has been put, shocked residents lay
flowers and message, and the news media jostle for space.
An Indian-origin person was again in the news for
the wrong reasons, this time from the hallowed academic
environs of the University of Oxford.
Devinder Sivia, a Mathematics lecturer, was initially
suspected to have caused the death of his close friend and
colleague, noted astrophysicist Professor Stephen Rawlings
Sivia, whose parents have roots in Punjab, has since been
defended by Rawlings` wife, who asked that he should not be
"tarnished" for her husband`s death.
After his arrest on January 12, Sivia has been
released on bail, without any charge. Senior Labour MP Keith
Vaz, who interacted with the Bidve family during their visit
here to collect Anuj`s body, says visitors to Britain "deserve
the best", and has called for efforts to ensure more safety
for international students.
Commending the efforts of the Greater Manchester
Police for its handling of the Bidve case, Vaz wrote: "But we
need to try even harder. After the trial, we need a full and
comprehensive report of exactly what happened so that everyone
can know the full facts.
But, above all, we want a swift and fair trial so that
the criminal justice system will match the great dignity of
the Bidve family. Nothing less will do".