Murder investigation finally launched in India after suspicious poisoning death of B.C. man

Published: September 3, 2013

LARISSA CAHUTE and ALMAS MEHERALLY 
VANCOUVER DESI

Parminder Jassal here with his wife Paramjit, ® and daughter Emin (in wheelchair) holding a photograph of her brother, Kevin, who used to look after her, in Richmond on August 21, 2013. Jassal claims his 20-year-old son was murdered by a family member in India in March. 2013.  A murder investigation has now begun in India, six months after Kevin’s death.

A Richmond family suffering through their only son’s devastating and suspicious death in India is finding some closure, now that a formal police probe has been launched in the subcontinent.

According to the first information report filed in Punjabi by Ludhiana police, a special investigative team is leading a murder investigation into 20-year-old Kevin Jassal’s death, which happened in Ludhiana while on a family trip in March.

“At least we know (there’s an investigation now),” the young man’s father, Parminder Jassal told Vancouver Desi.

The family left for India Feb. 25 and it was March 14 that Jassal found his son’s lifeless body on the floor of a family member’s home. Kevin was supposed to be out for drinks and then off to the gym with a relative that day. Rumours began to circulate through the small Indian village that Kevin died of a drug overdose.

According to Indian police inspector Sandeep Kumar Vadera, who is also a member of the team investigating Kevin’s death, police also learned Kevin and his relative were drinking and smoking before his death and that Kevin used drugs in Canada and had been admitted to a hospital two years ago for treatment.

But according to Jassal, this is untrue and Kevin was only admitted because alcohol was slipped into his drink, so when he received the coroner’s report last month listing aluminum phosphide insecticide poisoning as his son’s cause of death, he pointed the finger at the family members with Kevin at the time. He believes they fatally poisoned his son because they’ve threatened the family before when Kevin refused an arranged marriage to get out of debts.

Jassal believes his son’s murderers are responsible for spreading the “rumours” that Kevin was a drug addict as well.

“They spread it just to blame him for his own death which is wrong … totally wrong,” Jassal said, adding he’s submitted letters from friends and family stating Kevin didn’t use drugs.

“It’s clearly evident … that he has been poisoned with a pre-planned conspiracy.”

The Richmond family of 20-year-old Kevin Jassal believe their son was murdered by another family member in India in March. 2013.

Although the investigative team is aware of Jassal’s allegations, according to Vadera, police have no suspects yet and need more information about the poisoning.

Jassal has been lobbying endlessly for the investigation — and while it’s finally come, it’s still not easy.

“I’m having quite a hard time,” he said.

The desperate father wants to travel to India to help, but is afraid being in India — near the relatives he believes to be responsible — would only put his life in danger.

“I don’t want to jeopardize my life,” he said, adding that his daughter, who is physically disabled and in a wheelchair, relied heavily on Kevin for getting around, so now Jassal needs to maintain that role. “My daughter is so confused and scared of the situation and she thinks now that they are going to basically kill us.”

In an emailed statement from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, the department confirmed a Canadian citizen died in India and that they’re “in regular contact with local authorities to get updates on the investigation.”

They also claimed consular services were provided to the family, but Jassal said he’s had to find his own counsellors and has received little information from the embassy.

“They just sent me emails, they didn’t provide me any concrete information,” he said. “I found out a lot of stuff myself.”

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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