The Canadian police are investigating the role of a convicted fraudster and alleged human smuggler in connection with the death of a Gujarat family at the US-Canada border earlier this year, as per a local media report.
India-born Rajinder Pal Singh, who is allegedly living illegally in the US, is being investigated for his role in the death of Jagdish Patel (39), wife Vaishali Patel (37), daughter Vihangi Patel (11) and son Dharmik Patel (3).
The family was found frozen to death near Manitoba on the Canadian side of the border on Jan. 19. Temperatures in the region were as low as -30 degrees Celsius at the time.
A report in Canada-based CBC said that Singh, who has been previously convicted of bank fraud and forgery, was arrested in Washington in May. US prosecutors have accused him of being part of a network that deals with smuggling migrants from India to the US via Canada’s British Columbia border.
Prosecutors allege that Singh smuggles migrants across borders, pick them up via Uber and then provides them housing in Washington’s Seattle region, said the report. It added that he allegedly moves them out to midwestern America, charging them over $11,500 (around Rs. 9.5 lakh) per person for the process.
The Patels hailed from the Dingucha village in Gujarat. They were in Canada on a visitors’ visa. Jagdish and his wife Vaishali had been working as schoolteachers in India before they left the country, hoping to build a new life abroad, Jagdish’s father Baldev Patel told the Indian Express in an interview in January.
They were cremated in Canada after the Patel family said that their bodies would not be brought back to India due to the high cost involved. Instead, Jagdish’s brother Mahendra Patel flew to Canada to light the pyre and conducted their funeral as per Hindu customs.