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Case Studies

Kulwant Kaur death claim case:- Conspiracy at its best

4th Dec, 2015

Disclaimer: The narrated article / case study is based on true incidents / happenings and the details of the investigation conducted are absolutely true and real. However, for the sake of protection of privacy and client confidentiality, the names of subjects and entities / establishments have been changed but the locations are real and accurate.

The lust of instant money within a short span of time is an inducement good enough to draw an ordinary human being into being a conspirator capable enough to hatch a conspiracy which goes far beyond the scope of an economic offence and at times goes as deep as heinous crimes like murder. Time and again there have been instances where the Insured beneficiaries and claimants have considered their Insurance policies, a liver convenient to make windfall profits by hatching sensational conspiracies by staging their deaths and such instances are not very uncommon, but rarely one sees such cases, like the present one, wherein the fraudsters are so incorrigibly driven by lust and greed that they get carried away even to the extent of killing somebody. Such offenders are not only a social parasite but also a blot on the face of humanity. What is more shocking is that, not one but almost all members of a big joint family colluded and hatched the present conspiracy with a common intention of cheating and defrauding the Insurance company and also went a step ahead and behaved like hardened criminals when they managed to obtain a dead body and stage the death of the Insured. The possibility of their getting involved into the heinous act of a gruesome murder also cannot be overlooked and there is a plausible possibility that the co-conspirators might have murdered an innocent person in order to attain their ulterior motives.

Such acts collectively shake the social conscience and the perpetrators of crime do not deserve any leniency or mercy at the hands of law. The present case is a classical example of how a common man can turn into a beast and unleash the monster within him. This case shows that even ordinary people may possess the skills of immaculate criminal planning behaving like any other well trained and hard core criminal. No wonder the co-conspirators in the present case, including the Insured whose death was staged, her husband, i.e. the beneficiary of the policy and all other important family members were taken into Police custody, put behind the bars and got their bail applications rejected not only from the court of Sessions Judge, but also from the Hon’ble High Court. The gravity of offence collusively committed by the co-conspirators was such that the Hon’ble court expressed acute displeasure and anguish over the said episode and out rightly denied bail to the accused persons. What was more shocking was that the main accused was a lady, who otherwise had a happy family including children, but the lust of becoming rich overnight, was of such strong magnitude that it paralyzed all vital parameters and thinking ability of the lady in question and she just could not differentiate between the right and the social wrong that she had entered into.

The story unfolds in the rural village set-up of the Punjab state in northern India. Punjab is known for the massive number of emigrants and Non Resident Indians who have migrated from Punjab to several other parts of the world, mainly to USA and Canada and many of them return to their native villages once a year for spending a month or so, with their extended family and close relatives. The prevailing difference between the strength of the two economies and the variation between the values of the two currencies is certainly so luring and mouth watering that what appears to be a modest monthly pay package in the foreign country suddenly becomes a luxurious amount back in India. The proceeds of an Insurance Policy which may only be good to support the routine life of survivors after the death of Insured in the foreign country, are actually an amount big enough to support a high class living back in India without doing any effective work or labor. This inducement was good enough to invoke the monster within the Insured and her family members during the family’s annual visit to India and they collectively hatched the conspiracy of staging the death of the Insured Ms. Kulwant Kaur, wife of Mr. Jaswinder Singh Bedi who had emigrated to Canada about four years ago and had settled there with his family.

The present case is a landmark achievement for Greves and its team of highly experienced professional investigators who are blessed with a high caliber of investigative brain clubbed with intelligent thinking and that is the only reason which led to the present conspiracy being unearthed, as otherwise, the plan was so well implemented that nobody could have ever exposed the truth. The client for whom the present investigation was done could save a bogus claim of about 1 million US Dollars.

The story begins in a small village near the holy town of Amritsar, Punjab, the place where the famous Golden Temple, the sacred religious place of the Sikh community is located. The family boarded an SUV and about ten members of the family including the Insured, her husband, two minor Children, her father, two brothers and their wives and their children visited the Golden temple in Amritsar and after visiting the sacred shrine, started their way back to the village, located at a distance of about 75 Km. from the temple town, at about 4 PM and on their way back, the family reportedly halted for some light snacks and tea at a roadside eatery around 5 PM. The said roadside eatery was located on the banks on the Indira Gandhi Canal, which flows down from the state of Punjab down up to the desert state of Rajasthan, where it provides water for the purpose of irrigation in the otherwise water starved state of Rajasthan.

The perpetrators worked their best to carve out a fool proof plan. They conducted a detailed study of the topography of the Indira Gandhi Canal and studied it’s route in a meticulous manner. The Indira Gandhi Canal is one of the largest canal projects in India. It starts from the Harike Barrage at Firozpur, Punjab, a few kilometers below the confluence of the Satluj and Beas rivers in the state of Punjab and terminates in irrigation facilities in the Thar Desert in the north western part of the state of Rajasthan. Previously known as the Rajasthan Canal, it was renamed the Indira Gandhi Canal in 1985 following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The canal consists of the Rajasthan feeder canal with the first 167 kilometres in the state of Punjab and Haryana and a further 37 kilometres in Rajasthan followed by the 445 kilometres of the Rajasthan main canal, which is entirely within Rajasthan. The canal enters Haryana from Punjab near Lohgarh village then runs through the western part of the Sirsa District before entering Rajasthan near Kharakhera village in the Hanumangarh District, from where the dead body, which was staged to be that of the Insured, was finally recovered. The canal traverses seven districts of Rajasthan: Barmer, Bikaner, Churu, Hanumangarh, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, and Sriganganagar.

Coming back to the family of conspirators which had reportedly taken a tea break at a roadside eatery while returning from Amritsar, the story of disappearance of insured stated that the Insured along with one of her two brothers expressed a desire to offer prayers by the banks of the canal which was flowing adjacently and one could reach the banks of the canal after moving down some steep stairs at a few yards from the roadside eatery. The conspiracy was so well hatched that the venue and spots of incident were carefully thought of and chosen. The brother sister duo then reportedly walked a few yards from the eatery to get to the nearby stairs which took them down to the banks of the canal and upon reaching the banks, the Insured (sister) placed some candles and wanted to light them for the purpose of offering prayers. At this stage, the duo realized that they did not have a matchstick to light the candles and the brother therefore went back to the eatery where their vehicle was parked, to bring a matchbox so that the candles could be lit. The timing of the conspiracy was again well thought of, as the water in the canal is released from Harike barrage from time to time and whenever water is released, the flow of water increases and the water currents becomes faster. The story unfolds further and the brother reportedly reached back after collecting the matchbox only to find his sister missing from the site and what he could see was only the footwear, shoulder scarf and handbag of his sister. It was further stated that from the circumstances and situations, the brother took no time to realize that his sister has accidently slipped into the flowing waters of the canal and has been carried away by the water currents. Interestingly, the realization reportedly occurred at a time of around 6 PM, by which, it was dark enough to conduct any search operation and needless to mention, even the timing was a part of the conspiracy, as the failure of the search operation would appear to be more realistic and justified because of the darkness which engulfs the area by 6 PM. The family reportedly made a lot of hue and cry but to no avail and no one could enter into the canal waters because of the dim light and non availability of resources at that time. The family accordingly reported the incident to the nearby Police post and the Police party from the nearby post reached the spot only to examine basic facts, obtain statements of the family members and conduct a basic investigation. The Police party advised the family to go home and return next morning so that the rescue-cum-search operation could be resumed. The family did the same and reported at the accident site at about 7 AM next day where the Police party also joined and some professional divers conducted a search operation but did not find any dead body or any other sign of the missing Insured. The family was then advised to contact the subsequent Police posts located on the route through which the canal flows and the family accordingly got similar search operations conducted at various canal heads where the dead body could have flown after drowning. The family then carefully proceeded with their next plan of action. After a lapse of about two weeks they implemented the second phase of their conspiracy and proceeded to Lohgarh, the place where the canal enters the state of Rajasthan from the state of Punjab. Upon being informed by the workers deputed at the Lohgrah head that a dead body has been spotted at the point and they must come down to Lohgarh and get the body extricated and then identify, the two brothers, husband and father of the Insured, along with some neighbors reportedly reached the spot at Lohgarh head, and hired some professionals to extricate the dead body which was entangled in the aquatic plants located in the middle of the canal. The workers tried to extricate the body using ropes and hooks but while pulling the same, the dead body got entangled into some obstructions and got loosened and slipped away again into the flowing stream of water. This was the successful completion of the second stage of conspiracy.

The conspirators then proceeded with the third and final stage of the conspiracy wherein the dead body was finally recovered when some local residents in the district Hanumangarh in the state of Rajasthan, spotted the same after about three weeks from the reported incident. The family reached the spot in the District Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, after the local workers reportedly informed them. The body was finally extricated and the physical structure of the body matched with that of the insured. Apart from that, the family members reportedly recognized the body to be that of the Insured and the clothes found on the body also matched with the ones that the Insured was reportedly wearing at the time of incident. However, it was maintained that the dead body has got mutilated and defaced and the face has been damaged beyond recognition and the body could be identified only from its physical and structural resemblance and the attire. The dead body was then released to the family members after post-mortem and completion of formalities at the Police Station. The family then carried the dead body back to its home and it was then cremated at the local crematorium located in the village. Pursuant to the cremation, the family completed all other post death formalities, obtained the death certificate from the office of the Registrar of Birth and Deaths and finally filed the Insurance claim with the Insurance company in Canada which, as a routine practice, ordered the death claim investigation to the Greves Group.

The investigators at Greves Group conducted a detailed investigation which included meeting all the family members and few neighbors who had attended the funeral and had stayed with the family during the search operation. The investigators obtained their statements, obtained photographs of the spot of accident and other relevant locations where the dead body was first detected and then finally recovered from, verified the documents and death certificate and confirmed with the crematorium and checked the crematorium records. The planning and execution was so meticulous that no bogus or fake documents were detected. All certificates and documents were found to be genuine and the investigation did not yield anything suspicious which would cast serious doubts over the genuineness and authenticity of the accident. All medical reports confirmed that the death occurred due to asphyxiation caused form drowning. The investigators concerned however had some serious and profound questions troubling their mind which were an outcome of the mature exposure and high level of experience of the investigators and that is the reason they decided not to just conclude this case in a stereotypical manner and rather get into the finer and deeper details of the same.

The first set of doubts arose in the mind of investigators the very moment when they heard the version of the Insured’s brother that his sister had gone to the banks of the canal to light some candles with a purpose to pray. Considering the fact that the family was returning after offering prayers at the Golden Temple which is one of the most sacred shrines of the Sikh religion, there was no reason for offering prayers again enroute while returning home. Secondly, the concept of lighting candles by the banks of the canal was very uncommon and does not bear any resemblance with the beliefs of the Sikh religion. Lighting candles while offering prayers is common in the Christian community but the Sikhs generally do not have such practice of offering prayers. Thirdly, the concerned accident spot where the Insured had gone to light the candles for offering prayers was completely irrelevant for the said purpose and did not have any religious sanctity or relevance. Even the locals confirmed that they had not seen any people indulging into such practices at that spot. The fourth factor which casted serious doubts over the authenticity of the incident, was that no such photographs were obtained where the face of the dead body was clearly visible.

Lastly, the fact that the Insured’s husband, i.e. the beneficiary of the policy had returned to Canada and was trying to expedite the process of settlement of Insurance claim while he had left his minor children back in India, was another reason to raise serious doubts because it was difficult to imagine a father leaving behind his two children immediately after the sudden and tragic demise of their mother.

The investigation was very difficult as all documentation and illustration of events was genuine and the complete chain of events was established beyond reasonable doubt. However, as is the customary for Greves Group and its team of investigators which always travels the extra mile wherever they sense trouble, an investigative strategy was formulated and it was decided that the house of the Insured where the rest of the family members lived, shall be kept under observation and despite the challenging atmosphere and difficulties, the team remained stationed in the vicinity and kept the house under regular monitoring. No clues could be drawn for the first three days but the fourth day, one of the investigators spotted the children of the Insured going somewhere escorted by their maternal grandfather and the investigators trailed them. This was the turning point of the case and they were trailed to an isolated house located in a different locality where all the three people entered and after about two hours, the Insured’s father came out all alone and the children stayed back in the building. This made it almost clear that what the investigators had thought has turned out to be the truth and the Insured had actually never died. The family had staged the death and had either planted a dead body which they must have procured from somewhere, or they might have gone down to the extent of murdering a women of the same age group and near similar physical structure as that of the Insured. The investigators then kept the said house under observation and after nearly two days of constant and challenging surveillance, they could catch a glimpse of the Insured, when she appeared in the Balcony for a very short time. At this juncture, the investigation team reported the facts to the client company in Canada and after obtaining their telephonic concurrence, they reported the matter to the local Police. The Police party reached there within half an hour and the Insured, who was reportedly deceased, herself answered the door.

Rest is history. Whatever the Police did to them, is something that is not in our purview. The Police personnel must have done their job very well. The Police built a water tight case and the Insured, her husband, who was arrested in Canada and deported to India under intimation to Police and Immigration authorities, her father and the two brothers were all taken into custody, presented before a Magisterial court which denied bail to them. The accused persons then got their Bail application listed in the High Court of the state but no relief was granted owing to the nature and gravity of the offence and keeping in view the criminal bent of mind which drove them all, to such a far off point where they even conspired to plant a dead body or to kill someone. The matter remains under investigation and the accused remain in Jail till today, even after a lapse of nearly ten months from the date of offence.

The entire episode looks like a Crime Show on reality television, but what had transpired was actually a reality and we feel proud at the competencies and capabilities of our team of investigators, their sense of wisdom and devotion towards duty. The success of the present case is entirely owed to our team of investigators and gives us an immense sense of satisfaction and self accomplishment.