Canadian law enforcement identifies four Indian nationals died from exposure to extreme cold


Canadian law enforcement has formally identified the four Indian nationals who died from exposure to extreme cold near the United States border on January 19 in an apparent human smuggling operation gone wrong. Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has identified them as 39-year-old Jagdishkumar Baldevbhai Patel, his wife 37-year-old Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel, their daughter 11-year-old Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel, and son, three-year-old Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel.

All of them are from Gujarat. The autopsy conducted confirmed that “based on the circumstances, the death of all the persons have been determined to be consistent with exposure to the outdoor elements”.

This information was conveyed to the Indian government on Thursday. Next of kin of the deceased have been informed and the consulate general of India in Toronto is in touch with the family of the deceased and is providing consular support, according to a release from India’s High Commission in Ottawa.

Manitoba RCMP has also launched an investigation into how the family reached Canada and ultimately Emerson, a town near the border. In a statement, chief superintendent Rob Hill, Manitoba RCMP’s office in charge of criminal operations, said that the Patel family arrived in Toronto on January 12 and this was their first point of entry into Canada. From Toronto, the family made their way to Manitoba and eventually to Emerson on, or about, January 18.

“There was no abandoned vehicle located on the Canadian side of the border - this clearly indicates that someone drove the family to the border and then left the scene,” he said.

“With what we know so far of their activities in Canada, along with the arrest that occurred in the United States, we believe this to be a case of human smuggling,” he stressed.

Manitoba RCMP is working closely with RCMP liaison officers stationed in New Delhi, India, and Washington, and are in regular contact with the US Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security Investigations. He apologised for the initial identification of one of the victims as a male teen and said the error was due to “the frozen state in which the bodies were found and the clothing worn by the family made the initial identification difficult”.

The High Commission’s statement noted that on “longer term issues that this tragedy has brought into focus the need to ensure that migration and mobility are made safe and legal and that such tragedies do not recur”.

A number of ideas are under discussion between India and Canada in this context, including India’s proposal of a comprehensive Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement (MMPA) to Canada, so as to “prevent and suppress irregular migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human being and to facilitate sustainable and circular mobility”. The matter remains under consideration with Canada.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)