Gurjit Bhandal, one of the persons reportedly named in the "abduction" of Mehul Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, has denied any link to the case and claimed that he had left the Caribbean island on May 23 morning on a yacht, according to local media reports.
In his complaint to the Antigua police, Choksi has claimed that he was abducted on May 23 evening when he had gone to a place where his "friend" Barbara Jabarica, also a suspect in the case, was staying. He has named Gurmit Singh, Narendar Singh, Jabarica and other unidentified persons for his alleged abduction.
Bhandal, who is into property business in Midlands, United Kingdom, has claimed that he had gone sailing in the Caribbeans with his friend Gurmit Singh in April-May, website Writeups24.com reported. Denying any association with the alleged abduction of Choksi, Bhandal, an Indian-origin person, said he would "co-operate and help the police" in the investigation, but the Antigua police has not approached him so far.
Bhandal told the website in a telephonic interview that on May 23, he and Singh were at English Harbour in Antigua and after clearing immigration late morning, they left for Dominica. He claimed that he reached Dominica at night but cleared the customs the next day.
"We reached Dominica on May 23, Sunday night. On the same day, we started from Antigua and cleared the customs the next day on May 24," he told the website. Choksi, in his complaint, has alleged that he was picked up from Antigua on May 23 evening and taken on a yacht, which took him to the waters of Dominica the next day around 10 am, where he was handed over to the Coast Guard of Dominica on boat.
Their plan was to go to St Lucia from Dominica but Bhandal, who claimed to be a regular sailing aficionado, said he got "sea sick" en route and dropped any further sailing plan after reaching Dominica. Bhandal said he and Singh "often go sailing together" in the Mediterranean Sea, but this time, they decided to do it in the Caribbeans.
"We took a charter from there (Dominica) to Barbados," the website quoted him as saying. Asked about Jabarica, Choksi's friend who is allegedly involved in the abduction plot, Bhandal said he does not know her but keeps meeting hundreds of people while taking flights in the Caribbeans.
"There were 21 flights to the Caribbeans, but during Covid, there are only two flights in a week now, so this increases the possibility that we bump into the same people again and again," he said. In the telephonic interview to the website, Bhandal claimed that he has been sailing with Singh in the region since April, when he had stayed for four days in Antigua, a day in Dominica and four days in St Lucia.
In May, they were on a second yachting trip in the region, but could not book the boat that they used on their first trip, so they booked the Calliope of Arne yacht online. Choksi, wanted in a Rs 13,500-crore bank fraud case in India, had mysteriously gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying as a citizen since 2018.
He was detained in the neighbouring island country of Dominica for illegal entry, after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend. Choksi's lawyers alleged that he was abducted from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian, and brought to Dominica on a boat.
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