Settling down in the US is a prospect that continues to lure families from Gujarat. The desire to earn and spend in the greenback spurs even families of moderate means to risking their life to give it a try. The most recent case being that of the Chaudhury family from Mehsana.
Nearly a month after the family of four from Mehsana drowned in the Lawrence River at the Quebec-New York border while crossing into the US from Canada, it has emerged that they were not aware that the crossover entailed a boat journey. “The agents promised them a smooth taxi ride from Canada to the US. The boat trip came up last minute,” shared highly placed sources in Gujarat Police.
Eight bodies were recovered on March 30 by the Canadian Coast Guard, while the hunt was on to recover another four.
Trailing the case has also led sleuths to travel agents – Nikul Bihol, Arjun Chavda and Sachin Bihol – who had arranged the family’s illegal migration, added sources.
“The racketeers told Pravin Chaudhary and his family members that they would be taken to Canada from the US in a taxi. They were not told about the risky boat journey initially. They learnt about it on March 28, a day before they got on to the boat. None from the Chaudhary family could swim. They were among the eight who drowned in the choppy waters,” said a police officer.
The bodies of Pravin Chaudhary, 50, and his children Vidhi, 23, and Mitkumar, 20, were recovered on March 29, hours after their boat capsized. His wife, Daksha’s body, was recovered downstream much later.
The CID (Crime) is investigating the case. Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the trio charged Rs 60 lakhs for the “arrangement,” which also included accommodation in Canada and assistance in crossing into the US.
Pravin’s cousin brother Jashu Chaudhary also submitted a plea, claiming that the agents, (who are on the run since the St Lawrence tragedy), must be brought to account. “They misguided the family and pushed them into their fate on a day when the weather was reportedly rough. The agents promised to take them to the US in a taxi, but they later forcibly made them get on to a boat,” briefed an investigating officer.
It is now learnt that the Chaudhary family and another Gujarati family arrived in Canada on February 3 on valid tourist visas. After a two-month stay in Canada, the US crossover was attempted on a boat. Among the eight bodies recovered, while four were identified being of the Chaudhury family from Mehsana, another three were reportedly of a Romanian family, a couple and their toddler.
These deaths are similar to the tragic end of a family of four from Dingucha village in January 2022. The family froze to death in Canada while attempting to sneak into the US in sub-zero temperatures. The victims were Jagdish Patel (39), Vaishali Patel, (37), their 17-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.
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