With sleuths of the Himachal Pradesh police failing to solve the murder of a British charity worker, the UK has offered assistance for the investigation.
Michael Blakey, a volunteer for Dharamsala-based charitable trust Ton Len, was murdered on November 26, 2006. His body, covered with boulders, was found near a stream close to the cemetery of St John's church in McLeodganj. The police investigation had concluded that Blakey was bludgeoned to death.
The British government has offered to send a team comprising officials of the police and the Interpol wing, besides detectives.
“We have received a communication from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that the British team wants to provide more details of the murder case,” N. Venugopal, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Crime, told Hindustan Times on the phone from the Crime Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Shimla.
Venugopal said the team members wanted to visit the scene of the crime, though he did not give details of the proposed visit.
Blakey's autopsy, conducted in Dharamsala and UK, revealed that he died due to strangulation and serious injury on his head. His cell phone was recovered by police sleuths from a shopkeeper in Ludhiana (Punjab).
Sleuths suspected the involvement of Pawan Bhardwaj, a tea vendor in Mcleodganj, who had married Blakey's colleague Rachel Owen. The police questioned him in connection with the murder, but after being discharged by the court, he migrated to Scotland. A show-cause notice was served on then Station House Officer (SHO) for allowing Bhardwaj to travel abroad. The suspect has not returned to India since then.
The state police, through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), pressed Scotland Yard to pursue Bhardwaj to make him join the investigation. Blakey's parents and relatives had forwarded an inquest report of the coroner's investigation conducted by the Lancashire court.
Police officials said the report contained crucial evidence, which indicated Bhardwaj's involvement. “It stated that Bhardwaj had a bipolar personality,” officials said, adding that the report included statements of Bhardwaj and his wife.
Blakey, who had designed projects for improving lives of slum dwellers living on the outskirts of the town, wanted to build a big hostel for street children. His parents, after his death, donated money for the purpose. The Tong Len trust decided to set up the Michael Blakey Centre in Dharamsala.