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Mahato's father: 'Please take care of the other students'

Posted January 19, 2009

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— A year and a day after the murder of a Duke University graduate student from India, safety – especially that of students from other countries – has become a top concern, university officials said.

On Jan. 18, 2008, three friends found the body of Abhijit Mahato, 29, in his off-campus apartment. His face was in a pillow, and he had died from a single gunshot wound.

Since then, university officials say they have worked to fulfill the one request made by Mahato's father, who lives in the engineering doctoral student's hometown of Tatangar, India.

"The first thing the father said to us was, 'Please take care of the other students,'" Marianne Hassan, associate dean of new initiatives at the Pratt School of Engineering, said.

Police consider Mahato's slaying a random crime – with robbery being the motive. Two men are charged in his death, Stephen Lavance Oates, 20, and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr., 18.

Duke University officials say new safety initiatives are in place and under way.

"Access to and from campus and on and off campus is pretty permeable," university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said. "We do have to take extra care and encourage students to take extra care."

Friends believe Mahato, who was pursuing a doctorate in engineering, worked late in a lab before heading home from Duke's campus the night he died.

The university has launched crime-prevention workshops, started a new bus route to off-campus apartments and gotten rental zip cars to help students get around.

Those efforts, Hassan said, are a way to honor the wish of the slain student's father.

"I think Abhijit's memory will be with us for a long time," she said.

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  • applesmith Jan 19, 2009

    If Duke police were more proactive and quit worrying about making the students mad and quit kissing the butt of the alumni they wouldn't have the problems they have. Like the show Fantasy Island. Thats what "DUKE" is not ready to deal with reality." POLITICS " in the police department be seen not heard.I know i worked there at one time!!!!!!!!! THERE A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!

  • jsanders Jan 19, 2009

    His murder exposed a clear need for reform in NC's criminal justice system: http://www.johnlocke.org/site-docs/agenda2008/crimeandpunishment.html

  • wralgolo Jan 19, 2009

    Bring back the death penalty!

  • twc Jan 19, 2009

    If we truly did value life so highly we would rid ourselves of those lives that pollute life!

  • oldcorp Jan 19, 2009

    Compare the 'worth' to society of this young man as well as Eve Carson to the human debris that took their lives. It is a travesty that the suspects are still allowed to breathe our oxygen.

  • texasncgirl Jan 19, 2009

    God rest his soul. This young man died for no reason. It is an absolute shame that our system is so broken..I agree with 'fundybasher'..Praying that more of these do not happen

  • fundybasher Jan 19, 2009

    Putting and KEEPING criminals in jail would be the most effective way to protect the other students and law-abiding citizens in Durham.