Duke University doctoral student shot dead

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January 23, 2008

6:00 PM

p. Concerns about safety on American university campuses has been raised once again as a Duke University doctoral student was found murdered last Friday in his campus apartment.

p. Abhijit Majato, an Indian national who was working toward a doctorate in computational mechanics at the university, was found shot to death on Duke’s campus.

p. The crime, which was the third murder of an Indian doctorate student at an American university in the last month, has caused Duke administrators to raise serious questions about the safety of American universities nationwide.

p. Two other Indian doctoral students were found shot execution-style at Louisiana State University Dec. 17. Authorities still have not been able to solve the Duke and LSU murders and are currently investigating whether the two are connected.

p. The crimes, have brought about a great wave of emotion from the Indian academic community in the United States. The United States leads the world for the largest Indian student population, with over 250,000 students studying at institutions nationwide and roughly 80,000 students immigrating to the United States each year for international studies.

p. Duke is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse institutions in the nation, with students from over 117 countries. India is one of the largest contributors of students to Duke.

p. In response to the student’s murder, Duke has also started outreach programs to help Majato’s friends and family.

p. “This is a tragic circumstance, and we are doing everything possible to assist those who may be affected by it,” Duke University Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said.

p. Majato was originally from Kolkata, India, and was studying at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. Before coming to Duke, Majato earned his engineering degree from Jadavpur University in 2001 and a master’s of technology from the prestigious Indian Institute for Technology in 2004.

p. “He made friends very easily and always had a smile on his face,” Majato’s advisor and engineering Professor Tod Laursen said.

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