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Briton stoned to death in Dharamshala

December 07, 2006 14:19 IST

A young British aid worker whose body was found in Dharamshala November 28 may have been stoned to death 'by a crazed mob,' newspaper reports say.

The body of Michael Blakey, 23, was discovered partly concealed beneath a pile of stones in a ditch near a small church on the outskirts of Dharamsala. He was last seen three days earlier leaving the St John of the Wilderness Church, a Victorian stone church where Lord Elgin, the British Viceroy of India, was buried in 1863.

Blakey, a keen musician, had arrived in Dharamsala in June to work for the Edinburgh-based Tong Len Charitable Trust, which works with displaced Tibetan children and families, the Independent, London, said.

"The police have said that he may have died as a result of injuries inflicted by the stones. They do not have a motive. It is a peaceful area without any obvious threat. We have been told by the police that it is most likely that Michael was killed by someone unknown to him and possibly by more than one person," the newspaper quoted Anna Owen, the charity's director, as saying.

'Mr Blakey, who graduated from Swansea University and was due to start a PhD in London next year, had rented a room in the Kirti monastery in Mcleodganj, close to the headquarters of the Dalai Lama,' it said.

According to the Times, London, 'Indian police said that there was no obvious motive for the attack although his mobile phone and wallet were missing. They said that they had not made any arrests and were investigating several leads into the murder, which happened on November 25 or the day after, just before Mr Blakey was due to fly home for Christmas.'

More than 700 people from Christian, Buddhist and Hindu backgrounds took part in a ceremony in Dharamsala to mourn Blakey's death. The messages included one from the Dalai Lama. The body was flown out to the UK for the last rites.

'Every mother is proud of her son but I was extremely proud of Michael,' his mother, Mary Whitford, 52, of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was quoted as saying.

'It's amazing how many lives he's touched everywhere. The messages of support we've had from all round the world are unbelievable. We've had messages from China, Uganda, Kenya, the Philippines and India. Even the Dalai Lama has said prayers for Michael. They are having 12 days of mourning in the area where Michael worked,' she said.

'There were 750 people in the village and when they were bringing Michael's body back to Delhi, every single one of them came out to say goodbye.'

'If it was an accident it will be a bit more easy to live with. If he was attacked and murdered that would be such a sad, sad loss and very difficult to understand,' Blakey's father Paul was quoted as saying.

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