Parents appeal over Indian American student’s death near US university

Akul Dhawan, an Indian-origin student at Illinois University, died last month after freezing to death near a club that refused him entry during a night out with friends, according to police officials.

The parents of the 18-year-old Indian American student have filed a complaint with the University of Illinois Police and questioned the police about their search and the protocol they followed during the search. Dhawan's parents believe that no search was carried out near the Busey-Evans Residence Hall and University police did not follow their missing search protocols. They accuse the University of Illinois Police of being negligent.

In an open letter released in ‘The News Gazette’, Akul Dhawan's parents said, "As parents, we need answers. We have filed an official complaint with the UI police. We have the following questions for the university officials and police: The police say that they searched around the Busey-Evans Residence Hall at 2:09 am."

On January 31, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in a press release said that the University of Illinois Police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the January 20 death of Akul Dhawan, a student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. It said that the information collected so far supports the initial belief that the death was accidental, and no foul play occurred. It said that Dhawan was found deceased at about 11: 08 am (local time) on January 20 in the 1200 block of West Nevada Street, Urbana.

According to the media statement, a friend who lost contact with Dhawan called the police at 1:23 am (local time). According to the statement, investigators have shared a timeline of the police response to that call.
In 2024, seven young men of Indian and Indian American descent met untimely deaths under various circumstances, ranging from suspected suicides and overdoses to violent acts.

Last week White House official John Kirby condemned attacks on Indian students and asserted there is "no excuse for violence based on race, gender, or any other factor".

The President and this administration have been working very, very hard to make sure we're doing everything we can to work with state and local authorities to try to thwart and disrupt those kinds of attacks and make it clear to anybody who might consider them that they'll be held properly accountable, Kirby said amid a slew of attacks on Indian and Indian American students in various parts of the United States.

Also, Eric Garcetti, the US Ambassador to India, said that the Biden-led administration is "very committed" to assuring Indians that the US is a "wonderful and safe" place to pursue higher studies.

The Indian government and the mission in the US offered support and counselling to the distressed students and their relatives.


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