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Slain NRI's family suspects hand of social group

The family of Pankaj Trivedi suspects that a social group was behind the murder of the Cincinnati professional.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 13:09 IST

The family of US-based NRI Pankaj Trivedi, who was beaten to death by unidentified people Thursday, suspects that social group Swadhyaya Parivar was behind the murder.

Trivedi, a 43-year-old professional from Cincinnati, was closely associated with the Swadhyaya movement - inspired by the late Pandurang Shastri Athawale - and was involved in the legal battle between two factions of the movement, according to media reports.

"We all knew that he was against the functioning of the Swadhyay Parivar under its present leadership. He parted ways with the organisation some years ago and had initiated legal action against it.

There is a suspicion that they could be behind his murder," victim's friend Sandeep Patel told reporters after Trivedi's funeral.

Trivedi's son Himanshu, who arrived here early Sunday with his mother to attend the funeral, said: "My father didn't tell me anything about the developments. But whatever he has written in his letters is true. There is no other reason why he should be attacked."

He said his family was being harassed in the US also. He demanded a police investigation into the possible role of the Swadhyay Parivar in his father's murder.

The police had found documents, in form of letters and a video cassette, in Trivedi's car.

The Swadhyay Parivar, however, denied the charges. "The Parivar is deeply grieved over Trivedi's death and none of its members had anything to do with his murder," said Bharat Raval, a Parivar representative.

The police said Trivedi had written to the US Secret Service and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi expressing fears about a threat to his life.

"In his letter to the US agency, dated May 19, the victim had sought protection from followers of the social organisation Swadhyay Parivar. But we cannot act against anybody on the basis of the letter only," said assistant commissioner of police RS Chudasama.

Trivedi, who was part of the Parivar since 1972, claimed millions of dollars, collected as overseas donations for rehabilitation of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake victims, were misused in the last five years.

Trivedi was hit in his head with a baseball bat by the attackers outside the Ellis Bridge Gymkhana in the upscale Law Garden neighbourhood.

He had migrated to Cincinnati nine years ago and was on one of his regular visits to India. In the city, he used to live in Satyagrah Chhavni in the Satellite area.