US varsity, friends pay last respects to slain Indian student


New York : Friends of Abhijit Mahato and officials of Duke University gathered at a Hindu temple in North Carolina to pay their respects to the slain Indian student from Jharkhand.

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The prayer service was held in Morrisville, a town neighbouring Durham, where Mahato, 29, was a second-year PhD student at Duke’s Pratt College of Engineering.

He was killed over a week ago in a robbery at his home near the university.

At the service, Duke officials honoured Mahato. “He was interested in developing relationships with other very bright students all over the world,” said Prof. Tod Laursen, Mahato’s adviser at Duke. “He was interested in the way he would grow.”

Mahato’s friend Rinku Majumder was still trying to get past the memory of seeing his body at the funeral home.

“We went inside and we saw his body, with lots of blood,” said Majumder.

At the temple, some people couldn’t fight the tears. “He always used to tell me to keep laughing, that’s it,” said Tanmay Patni, Mahato’s friend.

Others at the ceremony were learning to cope with Mahato’s death a little better each day.

“We have to cope with it, there is no other option about that,” said Santanu Ghosh, another friend.

A 19-year-old youth, Stephen Lavance Oates, has been charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the death of Mahato.

The Durham police said Oates also faces 15 charges of robbery. Investigators believe his crimes stretch back several months. Oates remains behind bars and has been denied bond.