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'Shooting of Indian student in Boston NOT a hate crime'

Last updated on: April 23, 2012 11:50 IST

A 24-year-old Indian student, who was found dead near the Boston University campus, was not the victim of a hate crime and his killing appears to be an isolated incident, a prominent Indian-American organisation has said.

Odisha native K Seshadri Rao, a student at Boston University's Graduate School of Management, was shot in the head and leg in the early hours of April 19.

He was pronounced dead on the scene by Boston police.

Telugu Association of North America executive vice-president Mohan Nannapaneni said Rao's killing was not a hate crime, as is being speculated in some sections of the media.

"It is absolutely not a hate crime. It is an isolated incident. We do not yet know who did it and why but it is definitely not a hate or targetted crime," said Nannapaneni.

The police have some good leads in the case and any speculation about the cause of the shooting could jeopardize the investigation, he said.

No arrests have yet been made in the case.

Nannapaneni said students from across the world come to study at Boston University and he has not heard of any incident where a student has been targetted because of his race.

He termed as false and incorrect some reports that said Rao was "dragged" from his apartment and shot because of his race.

Nannapaneni said he had spoken to Rao's roommates, who denied that the young student was dragged from his rented house or that they were under attack because of their Indian background.

Nannapaneni said that sometimes students are targetted by criminals who are on the lookout to steal their wallets or cell phones.

Students may not be alert and pay much attention to their surroundings if they are talking on the phone or listening to music and they become easy preys for thieves and criminals, he added.

Boston police and the university officials are taking the investigation "very seriously" and Nannapaneni expressed confidence that those responsible for the crime will be soon brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Rao's body was brought to New Jersey on Sunday; preparations are underway to send it to India.

Nannapaneni said he has been in contact with Rao's family in Odisha as well as with officials at the Indian Consulate, who are trying to have the body flown to India as soon as possible.

A senior official from the Consulate was in Boston for over a day, where he met with Boston University and police authorities regarding the investigation.

The official also met the medical examiner and spoke to some of Rao's friends.

Nannapaneni said even though Boston University has a large campus and the police force and city police patrols the area round the clock, students should stay alert and take safety measures.

Yoshita Singh In New York
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