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Indian prof among Virginia Tech victims
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

A professor of Indian origin is among the 33 persons killed when a student opened fire in Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, on Monday morning.

G.V. Loganathan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, was reportedly teaching a class when he was shot. Minal Panchal, an Indian student from Mumbai, is also reported missing.

However, there was no confirmation on her status at the time of going to press. The Indian Students Association at the university said there were no other known victims of Indian origin among those killed or wounded in the massacre.

The police on Tuesday identified the student gunman as 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui. The shooting spree is the deadliest in the USA.

Cho, a South Korean native, was enrolled as an undergraduate student in his senior year as an English major at the university. The police recovered a nine- millimetre handgun and 22-caliber handgun from Norris Hall, where the carnage took place.

Ballistic tests on the guns linked one of the weapons to a shooting that took place earlier on Monday at the West Ambler Johnston Residence Hall on the Virginia Tech campus.

“At this time, the evidence does not conclusively identify Cho Seung-Hui as the gunman at both locations,” said Col W. Steven Flaherty, superintendent, Virginia state police.

“With this newfound ballistics evidence, we are now able to proceed to the next level of this complex investigation.”

Loganathan was an award-winning academic who taught at the university for 15 years. He was educated at Madras University, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and got his PhD from Perdue University. He won Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998 and the Outstanding Faculty Award in 2001.

According to wire reports, his colleague, Mallikarjun Kumar, told reporters: “One of the classrooms he was teaching in were involved in the shootout. We didn’t know exactly what was going on. His wife called up saying we didn’t hear anything from my husband and are trying to locate him. So we tried the local hospitals and tried to locate whether he is there or not and we could not find him. Soon after that, news broke out that he was among the victims.”

His wife and two daughters survive him.

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Loganathan wanted campus burial
Arup Chanda/Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 17
Professor G.V. Loganathan, who was killed in the worst shootout on the campus of University of Virginia yesterday, wanted his body to be buried within the campus in case he died suddenly while being on the faculty.

Talking to The Tribune, his brother, G.V. Palanivel, from Gobichettipalayam in Tamil Nadu said, “My brother used to say, ‘My body should be laid to rest within the campus, where I have been teaching for so many years.’ Though being Hindus and Tamils, we usually cremate our dead. But in my brother's case, we want to respect his wish. I had first said that we wanted the cooperation of the Central and the state governments for easy passage of his body back home. But now, we have changed our mind.”

When pointed out that according to the US law bodies could not be buried inside the university campus and only in a cemetery, Palalnivel said, “We are in a state of shock and not in a position to go into such details but if his wife decides that he be buried in the US, we have no problems.”

Palanivel, an electrical engineer with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, said Prof Loganathan had called on Sunday, the day after Tamil New Year-’Chitre’, and spoke to the family members and enquired about their well-being. “He sounded very nostalgic,” he added.

While the family and members of the locality are in a shock, Prof Loganathan's mother was inconsolable as she wailed and kept repeating, “How could this happen? He spoke to me over the telephone just two days ago and said everything was fine.”

Loganathan had studied at Diamond Jubilee High School at Gobichettipalayam and then went to PSG Engineering College under University of Madras from where he graduated in Civil Engineering in 1975.

Loganathan then did his postgraduation from the IIT, Kanpur, and went to Purdue University in the USA to complete his doctorate.

He was very popular among his students. Whenever he would call, he would mention about how he was loved and respected by his students, Palanivel said.

Prof Loganathan had taken up US citizenship but also possessed a Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card issued by the Central government, as he was very much an Indian at heart, he added.

Prof Loganathan is survived by his wife, Usha, and two daughters, who resided with him at Blacksburg near the university campus.

The elder daughter, Umamaheshwari, is a final year student of biomedical engineering in the same university while the younger daughter, Abhirami, is a seventh grade student.

Prof Loganathan was a teacher of civil and environmental engineering and was considered among the top 10 teachers in University of Virginia. He was twice honoured with awards for excellence in teaching.

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