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USA: Indian student Varun Raj Pucha passes away a week after knife attack in a gym, accused said ‘stabbed because he was looking weird’

"Officers also spoke with Planet Fitness staff who indicated that Varun was a regular gym member and generally kept to himself, was quiet and reserved, nothing indicating that he was 'creepy'," the police said. 

On Wednesday, 8th November, a 24-year-old Indian student Varun Raj Pucha who was stabbed at a gym in South Indiana in the United States on October 29 succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.

Jordan Andrade stabbed Varun Raj Pucha, a computer science student at Valparaiso University, in the head on October 29 at the Planet Fitness Club in Valparaiso, Indiana.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Valparaiso University authorities informed about Varun’s tragic demise and said, “It is with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Varun Raj Pucha. Our campus community has lost one of its own, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Varun’s family and friends as we mourn this devastating loss.”

The varsity added that they are in touch with Varun’s family and will assist them in any way possible. The university is also planning a service of remembrance and memorial for Varun on campus for November 16.

“The university continues to be in contact with Varun’s family, and we will continue to offer assistance and support wherever possible as they navigate this extremely difficult time. We ask that you join us in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers,” the university said.

Varun was pursuing an MS in Computer Science and went to the United States in August 2022. He was supposed to return home to Telangana’s Khammam after finishing his studies next year. According to Varun’s cousin, his condition did not improve following the incident. He was unconscious at a hospital in Fort Wayne before passing.

Anile Balleboyne is one of the few relatives of the deceased student in the United States, as his parents and the rest of his family are in India. He arrived in Indiana approximately a year and a half ago, she added, in the hopes of getting a decent education.

“It’s difficult because no one expects this kind of situation for their kids. He had many dreams. He came with many dreams, to financially and emotionally support his family,” Balleboyne said.

The attacker was arrested after the incident and is now facing charges of violence with a deadly weapon and attempted murder.

Accused Andrade told police that he and Varun had never spoken before the attack, but that “someone” informed him Varun was “threatening.”

“Officers also spoke with Planet Fitness staff who indicated that Varun was a regular gym member and generally kept to himself, was quiet and reserved, nothing indicating that he was ‘creepy’,” the police said. 

Andrade claimed he stepped inside the gym’s massage area and encountered Varun, whom he did not know but regarded “a little weird,” according to authorities. He argued that he felt threatened by Varun and “just reacted”, as stated in his own words. The accused admitted to pulling out his knife and attacking the 24-year-old Indian student.

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