Anuj Bidve 'was ambitious student planning India return'

Anuj Bidve and friends
Image caption Anuj Bidve (second from left) wanted to do research and development after finishing his postgraduate studies

Anuj Bidve was full of "hope and ambition" as he left his home on India's west coast to start a postgraduate degree in England.

The 23-year-old decided to take up a place studying micro-electronics at the University of Lancaster after initially trying to gain a place in the armed forces.

In September 2011 he left his home in Pune, 91 miles from Mumbai, to begin a new chapter in his life.

Three months later his life ended in an instant when Kiaran Stapleton shot the student in the head at point blank range on the streets of Salford.

Mr Bidve was killed in the early hours of 26 December as he and friends made their way to the Next Boxing Day sale in Manchester.

Back in Pune, his friend Ankit Shah struggled at first to comprehend the news.

"I thought it was a prank," Mr Shah said.

"I even left a message on his voicemail saying, 'Anuj we've heard this stupid news please call back'.

"It was only the next day when I saw all of the tributes on his Facebook account and saw the TV news when I realised it was true."

According to Mr Shah, studying at Lancaster University was not his friend's first choice after he graduated in engineering from the Sinhgad Institute of Technology in Pune.

"He actually tried several things before he went to the UK," Mr Shah said.

"He had tried for the Territorial Army, the Merchant Navy and he also had plans to go to the US.

"Finally he zeroed down on Lancaster University and even two days before he was killed he sent his friends a message on Facebook saying he was missing all of us a lot and saying he really wanted to come back.

"Quite a few of us said, 'who asked you to go there?'"

Image caption Ankit Shah said he wanted to visit the scene of his friend's death

Mr Bidve's parents borrowed the equivalent of £30,000 to help their only son study in England.

Mr Shah said his friend had seen this as a big responsibility.

"He wanted to do research and development and he always knew that he had to come back," he said.

"He said he would work for a couple of years and come back to his parents."

Classmates of Mr Bidve have fond memories of their friend at Sinhgad.

He would make them laugh by dancing like stars from Bollywood movies and mimicking them, as the students relaxed in their favourite sandwich bar in Pune.

The student had a gift for friendship, say those who knew him. He kept in touch with schoolmates, the friends he made at Sinhgad and had already found a new circle of friends in Lancaster.

"He was extremely jolly, no matter what you told him he would always take it in a joking way," Mr Shah said.

"He would never have grudges against you. In that way he was unique.

"He was like a treasure box, you could confide all of your feelings and it would never come out, they were completely safe in him."

A big fan of Manchester United, Mr Bidve had planned to visit Old Trafford during his Christmas break in Salford.

"Probably that is one thing that pulled him to his death," said Mr Shah.

He now wants to make a pilgrimage to the spot in Salford where his friend's life was ended, despite the violent circumstances surrounding it.

"I want to go and visit that place and see where all of it happened and place my own little token of memory," Mr Shah said.

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