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Four UK nationals, 3 of Indian origin, behind abduction: Mehul Choksi team

While Choksi has claimed a woman by the name Barbara had struck a friendship with him and aided his abduction, his wife has named “Gurmit” and “Gurjit” as having kidnapped him.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: June 11, 2021 7:31:12 am
Mehul Choksi is wheeled into a court in Dominica (AP/PTI Photo, File)

Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi’s legal team in London claimed Thursday that he was kidnapped on May 23 by four UK nationals — three of them reportedly of Indian origin — and taken to Dominica from Antigua and Barbuda, where he enjoyed protection as a citizen of the country.

The legal team led by lawyer Michael Polak said the four had travelled from London to Antigua and Dominica, giving a detailed account of one-and-a-half months of their alleged movement. Polak, who represents an organisation called Justice Abroad that offers legal services to “those detained abroad”, said they had also lodged a complaint with the Scotland Yard in the UK.

Claiming that Choksi’s family had approached them, Justice Abroad said in a statement, “The aim of this action (alleged abduction) was to remove the protection that Mr Choksi enjoys in Antigua, by way of his right to appeal… to the Privy Council in London.”

Addressing a press conference, Polak said that back in early April, a UK national called Barabara Jarabic alias Barbara Jose flew from London to Antigua with another individual. Jarabic reportedly then flew to Dominica on a private aircraft with the same individual and stayed there for a few days before coming back to Antigua. The next day both, along with two other individuals, Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Bhandal, flew to London, Polak claimed.

While Choksi has claimed a woman by the name Barbara had struck a friendship with him and aided his abduction, his wife has named “Gurmit” and “Gurjit” as having kidnapped him.

Polak said that during their time in the Caribbean in April, Singh and Bhandal had tried to dock a yacht at Dominica port. According to him, the April trip might have been “a reconnaissance or failed attempt to kidnap Choksi”.

He showed a Customs document mentioning Bhandal and Singh’s names as cleared for entry into Dominica on May 25. He also showed a picture of two men at the port, claiming they were Singh and Bhandal.

Polak added that on May 8, Jarabic had booked two adjacent villas in Antigua, specifically asking for premises with a jetty. He showed what he called a screenshot of her conversation with the owner of the villas proving this. According to him, as part of this “pre-planning”, Jarabic stayed in one of the properties, and the people who “kidnapped” Choksi in the other one.

Polak said that soon after Choksi went missing from Antigua, Jarabic and another UK national flew to Dominica on a private jet. On May 28, by which time Choksi was in Dominican custody, Bhandal, Singh and Jarabic flew out of Dominica, Polak said.

He also claimed that while he was being taken to Dominica, Choksi was asked to sign what might have been a consent form for his deportation to India.

Asked about Choksi’s family’s claims that it was an operation carried out by “Indian agencies”, Polak said, “I think the motive really speaks for itself… India obviously wants to remove Choksi to India.”

Calling the episode “pirate diplomacy”, Polak said, “This case is a fundamental test for the legal systems of Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda… and also a political test for Commonwealth as to whether there is respect for rule of law and individual rights.”

He also said the Dominican authorities charging Choksi with illegal entry was “ridiculous” since as an Antigua citizen he had a right to travel to Caribbean countries.

The CBI, which is pursuing a case against Choksi, did not respond to an email sent on the matter.

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