Ready to help authorities in Mehul Choksi probe, says Gurjit Bhandal

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Gurjit Singh Bhandal and Gurmit Singh on the Calliope of Arne Yacht.
Gurjit Singh Bhandal and Gurmit Singh on the Calliope of Arne Yacht.

Port of Spain: Mehul Choksi’s lawyers had alleged in the High Court of Justice that two men of Indian origin had a part to play in their client’s sudden disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, 2021.

Writeups24 interviewed the two men in question, answering the purpose of their visit to the Caribbean region. Gurjit Bhandal stated that he is of Indian origin and resides in Midlands, United Kingdom. He said that he doesn’t even remember when he last visited India while referring to his association with India or any Indian authority.

Bhandal also stated he has not been approached by any Antiguan authorities regarding the case, but he would eventually cooperate and help the police to probe in the matter. He also denied any involvement in the disappearance of Mehul Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda.

A correspondent asked them of their whereabouts on the Mehul Choksi went missing. Gurjit Bhandal answered, “I think we were at English Harbour in the morning of May 23 and cleared our immigration late morning then left for Dominica.”

He added that the trip was to go to Dominica and later travel to St Lucia, but it did not go as planned. Bhandal stated that he got seasick after their continuous sail, so both had to end their trip in Dominica. “We took a charter from there to Barbados.”

They stated it is not strange of foreigners to sail around different Caribbean islands, and thousands of people do it. “Some organizations also conduct special sailing races in the region with people coming from around the world to participate.”

On questioned if they know Barbara Jarabica or if they ever travelled with her during their trip, they stated they are not known to anyone by this name but come across hundreds of people on the plane.

“Normally, there are weekly flights, and it is very common that you come across the same people you go with and come back. There were 21 flights to the Caribbean, but during COVID, there are now only 2 flights in a week, so this increases the possibility that we bump in with the same people again and again.”

On questioning, if they travelled with Barbara Jarabica on 28 May from Dominica to St Lucia, Gurjit Singh Bhandal replied, “We did not travel to St Lucia on May 28, but we went to Barbados on the same day. As I said earlier, maybe more persons would have travelled with during the round journey but do not mean that we are in connection with them.

On asked if they met any other Indian origin people, he stated that it is common to greet someone when you are on the plane.

“As I said earlier, we meet the same people, again and again, it is my everyday gesture to meet if any Indian origin person is near me, but I can’t remember the names because we must have just had hello or hi to few people,” stated Gurjit Singh Bhandal.

Writeups 24 also asked them to answer to the allegations that they tried to dock at Dominica on 12 April were denied permission; Gurjit Singh Bhandal stated that it is inaccurate as authorities had asked them to quarantine for five days, but because they did not want to waste their time, they decided to move to St Lucia.

How did you enter Dominica on May 23?
“The laws are changing every now and then; during the month of April, there were strict restrictions and mandatory quarantine. But at the end of May, it was changed by the government that we only had to take a PCR test for entry, so we were able to enter Dominica on May 24.”

Gurjit Singh Bhandal stated he, along with Gurmit Singh, reached Dominica on the same day they left from Antigua. “We reached Dominica 23 May, Sunday night on the same day we started from Antigua and cleared our customs on the next day on May 24.

When Writeups24 asked why Mehul Choksi and his lawyers named them and their boat specifically, Gurjit Bhandal stated, “On Monday morning when I was not feeling well, so I told them I like to get out of the boat. Most of the customs and coast guards took our picture and came and started inspecting the boat asking questions. Maybe someone had shared out information with them. Since our boat was there.”

On questioned if they know about Mehul Choksi, he answered that they came to know about him only after their friends sent out videos alleging association with the incident.

He also stated that Gurmit Singh is his friend; they often go sailing together in the Mediterranean Sea, but this time they decided to do it in the Caribbean. He also stated that they hired the boat online and never met the yacht captain before. They also told Writeups24 that throughout their journey, they stayed on the boat.

Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Bhandal stated they had booked the yacht online for 19 May but boarded on the morning of 20 May. Answering if they travel to the Caribbean quite often, they stated they made the same voyage in April 2021, but the boat they used back then was already booked, so they hired the Calliope of Arne yacht online.

Gurjit Singh Bhandal and Gurmit Singh said they have been sailing in and around the region since April 2021, and in May, it was their second trip to the Caribbean. In a telephonic interview, they stated during their April sailing, they stayed in Antigua for 4 to 5 day, 1 day in Dominica and around 4 days in St Lucia.

Bhandal stated that in April 2021, they hired a Charter plane from St Lucia to travel back to Antigua after sailing. “From St Lucia we hired a charter plane to travel back to Antigua. Usually, people pool charter in the Caribbean to travel through islands. We had really good time and decided to go again to the Caribbean.”

Gurjit Bhandal stated that he is into property purchasing; he said he deals in property mainly in the West Midlands but asking about the Caribbean, he added that he does not work in the Caribbean, while Gurmit Singh is retired.

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