‘No one is allowed to enter this area without being checked and their antecedents being confirmed by the person they claim they want to visit’.
New Delhi: Investigation done by The Sunday Guardian after speaking to locals in Antigua and on the basis of Open Source Intelligence, it appears that the story narrated by fugitive Mehul Choksi in the High Court of Dominica that he was “abducted” by Indian officials and Antiguan police from Antigua and taken to Dominica is likely to be a concocted one.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to Antiguan citizens and as per them, Choksi was staying within the Harbour Island area which is a part of the Jolly Harbour village that is situated on the west coast of Antigua and Barbuda. All of them spoke on the condition of not being named.
This area, according to locals, is where the uber-rich of Antigua and Barbuda, especially those who have taken their citizenship through investment, stay.
According to them, Choksi owns two villas in the area. Each villa, with three bedrooms, costs around $400,000. Spread over 300 acres, Jolly Harbour is a gated community with 24-hour security and an 18-hole golf club situated at a walking distance.
“It is an area that is well-guarded with private security guards keeping a close eye and carrying out regular physical patrolling round-the-clock because of the rich people who stay there. The beaches and ports, too, are covered extensively by CCTV cameras that are installed by companies that own yachts and boats for security purposes. We are a close-knit community, something like this (Choksi being kidnapped and then taken to a boat that was berthed at Jolly Harbour) taking place without anyone noticing is impossible,” a local told The Sunday Guardian.
According to two local sources, Choksi had taken security cover from a company, which had provided him with two personal security officers (PSOs) who used to stay with him round the clock. The Sunday Guardian reached out to the owner of the security agency for a response from his side, but no response was received till the time the story went to press. “No one is allowed to enter this area without being checked and their antecedents being confirmed by the person whom they claim they want to visit. No one here believes Choksi’s story that he was kidnapped and taken away. Crime like kidnapping does not happen here,” a local told The Sunday Guardian. The kidnapping rate in the island country was 2% per 1 lakh people. The total population of the country, which is spread across 440 sq km, as on May 2020 was 99,000.
The local further stated that the beach and the harbours, too, are under 24×7 surveillance and no boat, or yacht can move out or come in without being noticed and hence, it is impossible that Choksi was kidnapped and put in a boat without anyone noticing it and raising an alarm. “The only way no one raised any alarm was because Choksi got out of his car and went inside the boat voluntarily,” he said.
According to him, the local Bolan police station, too, is less than 2 km from where Choksi was staying. Choksi, as per Antiguan police, went “missing” on 22 May at 5.15 pm, after he left his home in a car. The complaint for the same was filed at the Johnson Point police station.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to the two lawyers in Dominica, who are representing Choksi, for their response on what kind of proof, if any, Choksi had to prove that he was abducted by Indian officials as he has claimed. No response was received from them till the time the story went to press.
Well-known lawyer David Dorsett, who had been representing Choksi in Antigua, told The Sunday Guardian that he had stopped representing Choksi since the last one year.
The 62-year-old Choksi had fled India in January 2018, just days before the Punjab National Bank scam broke. He had reportedly taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda at least one year prior to that.
Antiguan police Commissioner Atlee Rodney has already denied reports he was kidnapped and taken to Dominica.