The plot has thickened in the mysterious disappearance of a family of five in Delhi. Hounded by unidentified elements, the Chawla family went missing on 20 October 2015. One of the family members returned after a few days claiming there was a threat to his family. However, the whereabouts of the other family members remain unknown, with the Delhi Police offering little help to resolve the issue. The police on Saturday put out advertisements in newspapers seeking public assistance in the matter that continues to baffle them.
Five members of the Chawla family — Jagdish (53), Meenu (50), Palak (23), Bharat (27) and Aastha (22) have been missing since 20 October. According to the police, the family had gone to a spiritual guru at an undisclosed location in Pune. The police hinted that this might be a case of criminal intimidation, under pressure of which the family decided to go underground.
“They (went) missing last month and one of them (Bharat) returned after a few days. Some relatives had filed a missing complaint here (Mangolpuri Police Station). Later, we learnt that the family had gone to Pune to some spiritual guru and they have not returned since,” Amit Nara, Investigation Officer (IO) of the case, told The Sunday Guardian.
“When the son came back, we did not ask many questions about the family because we thought this was a case of fraud. We have more serious matters to attend to,” he added. The family owned an electronics shop in Sonepat. It is possible that they had borrowed large sums of money from loan sharks and the inability to pay it back could be the reason for their disappearance. The IO said that nobody had contacted the police to claim that the Chawlas owed them money. When contacted, Bharat Chawla admitted that there was a threat to his family but quickly retracted his statement. At first, he said: “My family is not missing. There was a threat. We did go to Pune. My family is fine wherever they are. I know their whereabouts.” However, on further inquiry, he changed course saying his family was on a vacation. “My family was under a lot of stress. There were lots of issues and they were mentally disturbed. So, our family doctor asked them to take a break. They left for a holiday to Dubai.” He further added: “I did not look after the business, only my father did. I do not have any idea about any loan. Nobody was bothering us. We just want the matter to end. I do not even have any idea about any missing complaint or any advertisement about our family gone missing.” Adding to the intrigue, Bharat Chawla further said that it was only him who went to the Osho Ashram in Pune to deal with the mental stress. However, the police had said that the entire family, not just Bharat, was in Pune.
The family runs an electronics shop, Best Enterprises, at Railway Road in Haryana. Pradeep, an employee in the shop said that Jagdish Chawla had not come to the shop for a long time. “I have heard that Bharat has returned but he does not come to the shop.” According to the employee, it is Bharat who is handling the business now, despite Bharat’s statement that only his father looked after the business. The Delhi Police seems to be uninterested in the case. The SHO at the Mangolpuri Police Station , Arvind Kumar, whose name was mentioned in the missing persons advertisement about the Chawla family in a daily newspaper on Saturday, said, “I do not have much idea about the case. Three of the family members had come back I guess, only the husband-wife duo (Jagdish Chawla and Meenu Chawla) remain. There is nothing in this case.” When asked about whether the police put out the missing person advertisement because they suspected foulplay in the disappearance of the family, the SHO said: “These ads were given weeks earlier. They are just repeating them in regular intervals. How does it matter? The last two family members will soon return.” DCP Pitampura, Vikramjit Singh, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. The PRO of Delhi Police, Rajen Bhagat, also remained unavailable.