Two months after a 26-year-old TV journalist, Chirag Patel, was found charred to death under mysterious circumstances on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city, the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) has said that they have found the cell phone of the victim.
According to Assistant Commissioner of Police (DCB, Ahmedabad) B V Gohil, Patel’s cell phone was found with a man who is employed as a driver and lives in a colony at Kathwada village of Ahmedabad. Police claimed that Anil Vaghela had picked Patel’s phone on the morning of March 16 when his body was found.
“The man has been identified as Anil Vaghela, who is a cab driver and lives not far from where the body of Chirag Patel was found. According to Vaghela, on the morning of March 16, around 5 am, as he left his house in his cab, he found a motorcycle and a cellphone lying on the road. However, the journalist’s body was located in the bushes. Therefore, he claims that he couldn’t see the body and he left the site with the cellphone,” Gohil said.
According to police, Vaghela had erased all the data from Patel’s phone and kept it switched off. “Recently, Vaghela switched it on to use it. But we tracked the location of phone and picked him for interrogation,” Gohil said, adding that they are not considering Vaghela as a suspect.
The cell phone has now been sent to forensic science laboratory for tests.
Patel was employed as a copy editor with TV9 news channel. On the morning of March 16, a passerby had informed police of a charred body lying in a pasture land near chemical factory at Kathwada village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city. The mysterious death of Patel had caused an uproar in the state with the Opposition partties and civil society criticising police for inaction.
Patel was known for filing Right To Information (RTI) applications and doubts were cast whether his death could be a case of vengeance. The murder probe was transferred to DCB from Nikol police station on March 23 amid pressure from the victim’s family and the Opposition.
Police said that even two months after the death of journalist, they still have not been able to deduce whether it was murder or suicide. “The toxicology report from the FSL has confirmed the reason for death due to burning. We are probing the case to determine if it’s a murder or suicide,” said Gohil.
Meanwhile, Jaimin Patel, brother of Chirag, said, “The postmortem report had found carbon particles in his lungs and the report lists the cause of death as “due to burning”. We have been told that use of petrol would have not led to presence of carbon particulate matter in his lungs (in the amount that it was found inside his body).” Jaimin said that the police had not informed them about any progress in the investigation. “I found out about the recovery of Chirag’s cell phone only from media reports,” he added.