Dozens attend vigil for Mahato

March 25, 2008 8:14:11 AM PDT
Organizers taking a stand against violence in Durham hosted a vigil Monday in honor of Duke grad student Abjijit Mahato.

Dozens of people showed up at the apartment complex where Mahato was murdered two months ago.

"I have so many things to say about him," Mahato's roommate, Tanmay Patni said.

Patni says he can never forget the night his roommate was shot to death during a robbery.

Friends remember Mahato has an avid cook, an adventurous student and a friend always willing to lend a hand.

"He always used to help me," Patni said.

By remembering Mahato, the vigil also served as a public plea to stop the violence that claims innocent lives.

One of the men charged with Mahato's murder is also charged with killing another student, UNC senior Eve Carson.

The connection between the two crimes has kept both cases in the spotlight. Organizers say the turnout was unlike any other vigil before.

"If our cries would've been heard long ago, a lot of lives would've been saved," said Diane Jones with Parents of Murdered Children.

There are hundreds of other murder victims in Durham. Their names are listed on a wall --now along with one other.

"I can never ever forget Abhijit, so thanks again for coming," Patni said.

Organizers say their efforts will continue until there are policy changes like higher bails to keep dangerous criminals off the street.

Mahato's murder is not just making headlines here, but also overseas. Readers in India are keeping up with the latest developments in the case.

The news has raised concern about international student safety.

One article quotes Mahato's grandfather, suggesting the Indian government should work with American universities to ensure students are protected.

Indian graduate students at NC State say the perception of security at American Colleges has changed since Mahato's murder and several others.

"Before it was a non-issue, but now people want to know is it safe to come," NC State student, Sanidhya Khilnani said.

Students say they feel relatively safe, but the recent campus murders have made them more aware of their surroundings.


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