Mehul Choksi names ‘abductors’, hints at role of a politician
- On May 23, the day he went “missing” from Antigua, Choksi says, Jarabica asked him to deviate from their normal schedule of meeting at a public place and asked him to pick her up from her house.
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi has named a woman, Barbara Jarabica, two Indians he identified as Narender Singh and Gurmit Singh, and “unknown persons” as his abductors in his complaint filed with the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
Hindustan Times has seen a copy of the five-page complaint in which the 62-year-old has claimed that once he was brought to Dominica, he was informed by his abductors that a high-ranking Indian politician would speak with him.
In his complaint filed with the commissioner of police of Antigua on June 3, Choksi said he was on friendly terms with Barbara Jarabica for the past one year. She initially lived opposite his residential complex at Jolly Harbour, but later shifted to Coco Bay Hotel. She was friendly with Choksi’s staff too, and they used to meet regularly, often going out for evening walks, he added in the complaint.
On May 23, the day he went “missing” from Antigua, Choksi says, Jarabica asked him to deviate from their normal schedule of meeting at a public place and asked him to pick her up from her house.
Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said the island nation has started investigations into Choksi’s abduction allegations, even though he doesn’t believe that the businessman was abducted.
The businessman, wanted in India for defrauding, with his nephew Nirav Modi, the Punjab National Bank of ₹13,578 crore, added in his complaint that he reached Jarabica’s residence around 5-5.15pm and was invited in by her. She told him that they would step out after she finished her glass of wine. Once he entered, about 8-10 heavily built men appeared from all sides. “They claimed to be Antiguan police and that they know about me and have been watching me for a while,” Choksi said, adding that they wanted to take him to St John’s police station.
He alleged that the men beat him up with bare hands and tased him, and also took away his Rolex watch, cellphone, and wallet containing $1,500. He was then put on a wheelchair in an unconscious state, gagged and his face covered, the complaint said. When all this was happening, Choksi said, Jarabica didn’t even attempt to help him, which “clearly points to the fact she was an integral part of this entire scheme to kidnap me”.
He was then placed on a small watercraft, and then a larger boat, but when he resisted, he was threatened at knifepoint, the fugitive businessman said.
On the boat were two Indians and three people of Caribbean descent, according to him. Their appearances suggested, Choksi claimed, that the two Indians were highly trained mercenaries, hired specifically to abduct him. “One of the Indians said I was under observation for almost a year. They knew intimate details about my household, such as where I would walk, my favourite restaurants, my daily schedule, etc,” he said.
Another Indian asked him detailed questions about his finances and offshore bank accounts and threatened of dire consequences if his answers were not satisfactory, Choksi said. “I was also made to speak on the phone with a man who identified himself as Narender Singh. He said he was the chief agent on my case. He began to pressurize me to say I had cooperated with my captors and that I accompanied them of my own free volition which of course was not true,” Choksi’s complaint read. This person, Choksi alleged, also asked him to leave Jarabica out of the matter as it would lead to a public scandal.
Choksi claimed the boat reached Dominica 15-17 hours after his ordeal began, which was roughly 9.30-10am Antigua time on May 24.
“...I was told that I have been brought to this special location to give an interview to a high-ranking Indian politician. He also told me that my citizenship would be ‘fixed’ in Dominica and that I would soon be repatriated to India,” the complaint read.
Choksi said he was received by a battery of police officers in Dominica, including the chief of police, who informed him that he was arrested on an Interpol red notice. In Roseau police station, the complaint said, Choksi was kept in a cell and was denied medical treatment or legal representation.
Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said: “Truth and false are both five-letter words and not even a single letter is common. My client, Mr Choksi, by giving detailed narration of events, has stated his truth. Now (the) false, which was state sponsored, will get exposed if investigated honestly.”
In his first statement since Choksi was caught in Dominica on May 24, the island’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Monday that the “rights of Mehul Choksi will be respected as has been done thus far”. Skerrit also referred to Choksi as an Indian citizen. “The matter with this Indian citizen is before the courts, the courts will decide what happens to him,” the local media quoted him as saying