Police have added murder charge to the FIR related to the death of a television journalist, whose charred body was found near a canal in Kathwada in Ahmedabad on Saturday. Initially, an FIR of accidental death was registered by the police.
The charred body of 26-year-old Chirag Patel, a copy editor with TV9, was found by a passer-by hours after his family had approached the police with a missing person complaint.
Police said that they changed the FIR from accidental death to murder on the insistence of Chirag’s brother, Jaimin, who is the complainant in the case. “The complainant (Jaimin), while filing the FIR, was adamant that this can only be a murder, which is why we have filed the FIR under IPC section 302,” said a Nikol police officer. “However, we are investigating all possibilities from our side, and we are also looking into the family and if there were any issues on that front,” the officer added.
According to the FIR, the time of death is suspected to be between 4.45 pm on March 15 and 11.30 am March 16, when the body was spotted and reported to the police by one Vijay Thakor. Jaimin told the police that he last spoke to his brother at 4.45 pm on Friday.
Chirag had left home on his bike around 2 pm on Friday, the FIR states. “It was his weekly off that day and, as he often does, he informed (us) at home that he was going to the nearby tea stall, and left. It was his regular spot where he met his friends or had tea. What is suspect is that attempts to locate Chirag’s mobile phone showed it was at a location some 6-7 km away from where his body was found,” Jaimin told The Indian Express.
The phone has not yet been found.
Around 4.45 pm on Friday, Jaimin called Chirag on his mobile phone “to remind him of online cash transfer of Rs 10,000”. “He said he will come back in the evening and do it at home. Around 7:30 pm, my wife and my mother wanted to know what Chirag wanted to have for dinner, so we called,” recalled Jaimin. However, all attempts to contact Chirag’s mobile phone, went unanswered. They waited till late night for his return.
“Worried, we then went to Nikol police station sometime between 2-3 am to file a missing person’s report but we were told that we can’t file one before 24 hours (after the person goes missing).” he said. After Chirag did not turn up the next day, Jaimin went to the police station around 11.30 am to file the missing person’s report. He was informed by police that a charred body has been found along a canal near Kathwada village that morning.
After Jaimin identified the body as that of his brother, Chirag, a report of accidental death was filed.
Chirag lived with his mother, brother and sister-in-law. “There is CCTV footage of Chirag leaving the teastall near our house and then moving towards Haridarshan crossroad, Jaimin said. “The footage also shows him taking the Ring Road and moving towards Chhota Chiloda. However, there is no footage or any other evidence to trace his whereabouts between Chhota Chiloda and the spot from where his body was found. And that is a mystery,” Jaimin said.
Jaimin said in the FIR that it could only be a case of murder and not suicide. However, he said he could not, at the moment, think of a possible suspect. While the autopsy on Chirag’s body has been completed, the forensic report is awaited, Investigating Officer Hiteshsinh Zala said.