The body found floating near staircase no. 5 of Sukhna lake on Tuesday has turned out to be Vinod Kumar, former district education officer of Mohali, who was indicted in the judicial probe into the textbook scam of the Punjab Education Department last year.
The body was identified by Kumar’s family who came to the Sukhna police post from Kharar on Wednesday morning after hearing of an unidentified body fished out of the lake. He had gone missing on Tuesday and, after searching for several hours, the family had lodged a missing complaint with the Kharar police.
The family remained tight-lipped about Kumar’s death, refusing to talk to the media, but his son told the police that he had been in a state of depression for several months now.
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The post-mortem report attributed Kumar’s death to drowning between 10 and 11 am on Tuesday. His viscera was sent to the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory for analysis. Police have initiated inquest proceedings. “We are investigating the matter,” said Inspector Harjit Kaur, SHO of Sector 3 police station.
Kumar, 57, who remained suspended for several months following the scam, was reinstated in February this year and was presently posted as deputy director, vocational education, at the office of DPI, Punjab, in Phase 8, Mohali.
Police said Kumar and his wife Vijay Kumari, who works in the same building as deputy director in the State Council of Educational Research and Training, went to office together on Tuesday morning in their car. Kumar’s wife went to her sixth-floor office. Although several people met Vinod in the complex in the morning, he never entered his fourth-floor office, police said.
“Vijay had called Kumar on his mobile which he did not answer. She thought he must be busy so she did not call again. In the evening, she called him to ask if he was free, he again did not answer. She came downstairs and saw the car in the parking area, with the keys in the keyhole, and Vinod’s phone and wallet also in the car,” police said.
Vijay searched for Kumar in the office complex, but to no avail. Around 6.30 pm, she took an auto to her residence in Kharar and told her younger son Ravish about Kumar having gone missing. The mother-son duo, along with relatives, looked for Kumar and later lodged a missing report with the police around 9 pm.
Sushil Nath, a relative, informed the family about an unidentified body found in the Sukhna lake after reading media reports. Vijay and Ravish went to the lake police post. Officials took them to GMSH-16 where they identified the body.
Officials from the PSEB and colleagues of both Kumar and his wife reached the hospital. The family is waiting for the arrival of the elder son from Mumbai to claim the body.
A PSEB official said he last met Kumar outside the office building around 9.15 am when he was walking towards the main road. “I thought he must be out on a stroll as many officials take a 15-minute stroll after marking their attendance. He looked his usual self. In fact, he greeted me when he saw me.”
An employee working in Kumar’s office said that he had not come to the office. “I didn’t notice any change in his behaviour in the last few days. But how can one tell? He was a large-hearted man,” he said.