|Anuj Bidve’s framed photograph is displayed in the living room of his parents, Subhash and Yogini’s residence
It is quiet at four o’clock in the afternoon in the Vishrantwadi neighbourhood where Anuj Bidve lived, not too unlike Ordsall Lane in Salford near London where he was shot dead on the night of December 26 last year, and the two-km distance from Ahmednagar Road more than keeps out the bedlam of the highway.
Anuj’s residence, ‘Suyog’, is one of the several modest bungalows that line the streets here, with a Maruti 800 parked in the driveway. Subhash and Yogini Bidve, Anuj’s parents, are sleeping off the jetlag and travelweariness after their return from London, where their son’s killer Kiaran Stapleton was given 30 years for his crime four days ago.
While Subhash (55) was not averse to talking to us, Yogini (52) mostly kept herself to an inner room. In fact, it was only after several requests that she agreed to emerge briefly in the living room area to be photographed. This was the Bidves’ second trip to the UK, a country they visited for the first time after coming to know of Anuj’s killing.
Before leaving on their first trip in January, the shocked couple made a pact — they will not break down in public in a country where their son went to study, but was shot dead. However, the sympathy and understanding they received from complete strangers in the UK ensured Yogini did break down twice — first, when the police took them to the spot where Anuj was killed, and then during the hearing when Stapleton described how he zeroed in on Anuj.
“Everyone we met, irrespective of race, apologised to us for what happened to Anuj. Even Stapleton’s lawyer. We were given an apartment to stay in, which was guarded at all times by two police officers. Yogini would cook our meals,” Subhash said. “It was a painful five weeks for both of us in London.
We maintained our calm and dignity. We never uttered a word against anyone. Stapelton was remorseless throughout the hearing. It was more painful to know that Stapelton is of the same age (21) as Anuj was at the time of his death. It was shocking, how he went on talking about the murder in court. But we don’t know why he did it.
We wanted to ask him that, but he would just smile so we decided it was of no use. He was arrogant and cruel. He was smiling all the time.” The speed with which the murder trial — it took five weeks — was completed left them impressed. The couple, who attended the trial every day for five weeks between 10 am and 5 pm, said, “The judges gave their judgement in two hours after finding him guilty.
It was really a speedy trial. The police, prosecution team and others helped us a lot,” he said. The couple also paid a visit to Lancaster University, where Anuj was studying an MSc degree in Microelectronics and System-on-Chip Engineering.
The University announced a scholarship in his name, and the first Anuj Bidve Scholar will be picked from the University of Pune for an all-expenses-paid post-graduate Engineering course there.
Anuj had completed his BE in electronics and telecommunication from the Sinhgad Engineering College in Kondhwa before going to London. “After the shooting, Anuj’s friends kept themselves confined mostly to the University campus.
We asked them to enjoy their stay in a new country, meet more people, make friends. Despite this incident, what happened to our son, I would like to say that England is a safe country,” Subhash said.
ANUJ BIDVE, 21, was walking with eight friends in Salford near London on Boxing Day night last year when the group was accosted by Kiaran Stapleton (21), a factory worker. After wanting to know the time, Stapleton shot Anuj in the head without provocation.
During the trial, he tried to plead insanity and get a lower sentence on diminished responsibility but was refused by the court.
The defence psychologist told the Manchester court hearing the case that Stapleton, who called himself ‘Psycho’, had an antisocial personality disorder with psychopathic and sadistic features.