Indian police conducting inquiry into Richmond boy’s mysterious poisoning death

Photo of Kevin Jassal. PNG

ALMAS MEHERALLY
VANCOUVER DESI

Punjab police are conducting an inquiry into the mysterious death of Richmond boy Kevin Jassal while on holiday in India with his family.

The family went to Ludhiana, India, on Feb. 25 and Kevin’s father, Parminder Jassal, found the young man’s lifeless body at a relative’s house on March 14.

The family suspected murder and complained to officials after recently receiving a postmortem report, which named the cause of death as aluminum phosphide insecticide poisoning.

Parminder filed complaints and letters with the Chief Minister of Punjab, the Punjab Human Rights Commission, the Ludhiana Police Commissioner, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to probe his son’s death.

The inquiry is being conducted on the basis of a Punjab Human Rights Commission order, said Police Insp. Sandeep Kumar Vadera, who is investigating the case. The inquiry will be completed in the next seven days, he said.

A first information report (FIR), will be lodged based on the outcome of the inquiry, Vadera told Vancouver Desi from India.

According to Vadera’s findings so far, Kevin was out at the local mall with his cousin and another young man from their village. They met a group of Kenyan students there and Kevin spoke to them as the other two stood there unable to understand the conversation, which was in English. They later drank a lot of beer and even went to a hookah bar, where Kevin allegedly smoked, said Vadera.

According to the cousin’s statement, after returning from the mall, the cousins told the family they were going to the gym but landed at another relative’s house.

There, Kevin applied some unknown substance to the cousin’s lips and he became unconscious, only coming to after landing at a city hospital an hour’s distance from their village, said Vadera.

When the young men didn’t return home, the family started looking for them and found Kevin’s body and his cousin unconscious at the relative’s house. They immediately took both to the hospital, where Kevin was declared dead on arrival.

Police believe Kevin’s cousin was treated for opium overdose and was at the hospital for four or five days. They have asked for treatment details from the doctors involved and will be recording the doctors’ statements soon, Vadera said.

“I cannot say whether the case is a homicide as the inquiry is still ongoing. But prima facie, the postmortem report does show death due to poisoning. We are waiting for details from the chemical analysts to find out what substance was consumed by Kevin that may have contained the poison aluminum phosphide. The boy had consumed alcohol and smoked as well, so we want to be sure of the cause of death,” said Vadera.

Police also claim they learned Kevin used drugs when he was in Canada and had been admitted to a hospital two years ago for treatment.

But Kevin’s father countered that, saying of the Canadian incident: “Kevin was out for his graduation party and someone mixed alcohol in his drink. Since he had never consumed alcohol before, he felt sick and we took him to the hospital. He was discharged in a couple of hours.”

Jassal also denied addiction allegations against his son.

Instead, Jassal alleged that Kevin’s cousin who was with him at the time was an opium user and was involved in his son’s death.

“He (the cousin) is fabricating stories to protect himself,” Jassal said.

Vadera said he will be recording Jassal’s statement before concluding the inquiry.

“Until now, we have not found a motive, if this is a murder,” said Vadera.

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