British court asks India to speed up charity worker’s murder probe

March 12th, 2009 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Dharamsala, March 12 (IANS) A court in Britain has asked Himachal Pradesh Police to speed up the probe into the murder of a British charity worker, an official said here.
“We (the police) have received findings of a coroner’s court in Britain through the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) regarding the murder of Michael Blakey,” Additional Director General of Police I.D. Bhandari told IANS.

Blakey’s battered body was found beneath boulders in a shallow stream running through an old British cemetery in this hill station in November 2006. He had been bludgeoned to death.

Blakey was part of an Indian charity that was running community-based projects in the Kangra valley.

“Of course, the findings will help speed up investigations and help tie loose ends in the case,” he said.

The coroner’s court of Lancashire has sent an inquest report that includes statements of Blakey’s colleagues and friends, including the victim’s co-volunteer Rachel Owen and her Indian husband Pawan Bhardwaj, who is believed to be the prime suspect in the case.

Bhandari said the police still suspected the involvement of Bhardwaj in the crime.

“Bhardwaj was arrested on grounds of suspicion and questioned for several days but was later released without charge,” he said. “He was released after taking a lie-detector test in New Delhi.”

He said the police are investigating the case on two counts: the first being that Bhardwaj was jealous of his wife’s friendship with Blakey and the second reason could be that Blakey might have uncovered some financial chicanery in the charity, perhaps involving Bhardwaj.

At present, both Rachel and Bhardwaj are settled in Scotland.

According to the police, Blakey visited this hill town in 2004. At that time he met Rachel, who was planning to run a charity here with a Buddhist monk Jamyang.

Blakey showed interest in the charity and helped Rachel form the Tong-Len charity.

Between 2004 and 2006, both Blakey and Rachel visited Britain many times to generate funds for the charity.

Bhardwaj met Rachel in a small tea shop belonging to his uncle in October 2005. They fell in love. In July 2006, they married in a traditional Hindu ceremony.

Three months after the marriage, Blakey suddenly went missing from the monastery where he was staying. On Nov 28, 2006, two days after his disappearance, his body was found

in the graveyard.

According to the police, Blakey had suffered extensive injuries on the head and died of asphyxia. Afterwards, the body was sent to his family in Britain.

“Even the role of the police official (who questioned Bhardwaj in 2006) seems to be doubtful. Departmental enquiry against him is on and action is likely to be initiated against him soon,” Bhandari said.

“Now (after receiving the findings of the coroner’s court), the police will examine the case afresh. Even the report (coroner’s court) carries the psychiatric analysis, which says Bhardwaj has a bipolar personality,” he said.

“As the case is still under investigation, we will send a notice to Bhardwaj in Scotland to join the investigation. If he fails to join the probe, arrest warrants will be issued against him.”

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