Mehul Choksi abduction: Man named in complaint denies any link to case

Bhandal claimed to have left Antigua and Barbuda on a yacht on the morning of May 23 and that he was willing to cooperate with the police in the investigation.

Mehul Choksi abduction: Man named in complaint denies any link to case
Mehul Choksi is taken in a wheelchair to the Magistrate's court by police after his arrest for illegal entry into Dominica in the country's capital Roseau on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Photo credit: AP/PTI)

New Delhi: Gurjit Bhandal, reported to be one of the men Mehul Choksi named in his abduction complaint, denied any links to the alleged abduction. Choksi had claimed that he was abducted from Antigua and Barbuda on the evening of May 23 when he went to his friend Barbara Jabarica’s house. He had named Bhandal, Jabarica, Gurmit Singh, Narendar Singh and other unidentified persons in his complaint. According to local media reports, Bhandal claimed to have left Antigua and Barbuda on a yacht on the morning of May 23. Bhandal said that he was willing to “co-operate and help the police” in the investigation, but the police have not approached him yet.

Bhandal, a person of Indian origin who is in the real estate business in the Midlands and the United Kingdom, claimed that he was out sailing in the Caribbeans with his friend Gurmit Singh in April-May, Caribbean region-based new website Writeups24.com reported. In a telephonic interview, Bhandal told the website that on May 23, he and Singh were at the English Harbour in Antigua, cleared their immigration late in the morning and then left for Dominica. “We reached Dominica on May 23, Sunday night. On the same day, we started from Antigua and cleared the customs the next day on May 24,” Bhandal told the website.

Bhandal said the plan was to go to St Lucia from Dominica but Bhandal, who also claimed to be a sailing aficionado, said he got “seasick” en route, following which he cancelled any plans to sail further. Bhandal said that he has often sailed with Singh in the Mediterranean Sea, but this time planned to sail in the Caribbeans.

Bhandal also denied that he knew Barbara Jabarica, adding that he met a lot of people in flights in the Caribbeans. “There were 21 flights to the Caribbeans, but during Covid, there are only two flights in a week now, so this increases the possibility that we bump into the same people again and again,” he said.

He had been sailing with Singh in the Caribbeans since April, when he had stayed for four days in Antigua, a day in Dominica and four days in St Lucia, Bhandal said. They sailed a second time in May, but could not use the boat they used in the first trip, he said. So, they booked the Calliope of Arne yacht online, he added.

Choksi, in his complaint, has alleged that on the evening of May 23, he was picked up from Antigua on a yacht, which took him to the waters of Dominica the next day around 10 am, and then handed over to the coast guard of Dominica.

Choksi, wanted in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case in India, was found missing in Antigua and Barbuda, where he has taken refuge since he left India. He was later detained in Dominica for illegal entry. Choksi’s lawyers said that he was abducted from Antigua and brought to Dominica by policemen, who looked Antiguan and Indian.

(With inputs from PTI)

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