Police Call It an Accident but Kin of Kerala Models Want Mystery Solved
Their families have lodged complaints seeking an inquiry to unravel the mystery behind their death.
It has been 24 days since two models died in a fatal accident in Kerala's Kochi. While the police officials believe it was “just an accident,” the murky details around the case have left the families of the deceased wanting answers.
On 1 November, former Miss Kerala Ansi Kabeer and Miss Kerala 2019 first runner-up Anjana Shajan died in a car accident in Chakkaraparambu, Kochi.
The Quint spoke to their family members who have lodged complaints with the Kochi city police commissioner seeking an inquiry to unravel the mystery behind their deaths.
'Not an Open-and-Shut-Case'
The first arrest was made on 8 November, when Abdul Rahman, who was driving the car at the time of the accident, was taken into police custody. He was held on charges of death by negligence stating he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
The family of the victims, unsatisfied with the progress of the case, sought an investigation.
The Quint spoke to the investigating officers who said they “are very sure that this is an accident,” triggered by drunk driving and carelessness.
However, sources close to the investigation told The Quint, “This could be a case of drunk driving but it is important to investigate it thoroughly as they may have been pushed to drive so fast because of someone chasing them. We are getting to know that a few high-profile individuals were involved in the party and so this is not a simple open-and-shut-case.”
There are many aspects of the case that have raised suspicions of foul play.
Why the Delay?
Local reporters said that the police in Palarivattom were late in recording the driver’s statement, and also in questioning Roy J Vayalat, owner of 'No. 18 Hotel', where Ansi and Anjana and the others had gone for the party that night.
There was also a delay in recovering the CCTV footage from the hotel. Sources close to the police said that they believe this delay has raised suspicion that VIPs could have been in attendance, or even involved in some way.
The Car Chase
One of the most alarming facts is admitted by the police. One Saiju Thankachan, who has alleged links with the drug trafficking mafia in Kochi, had chased the Ford Figo car in which Ansi and Anjana and the others were travelling, in his Audi, according to the police.
According to reports, Thankachan had invited the models to an after-party get-together at the hotel, but the girls rejected the invitation.
He then is reported to have chased their car, had a conversation with them in the middle of the road – after which he allegedly continued to follow them. He was just seconds away from the car when it crashed, reports said.
Thankachan then reportedly called up and informed the hotel owner about the crash. He approached the courts on 18 November and sought anticipatory bail, and is now absconding.
The families have therefore questioned why Thankachan has not been made an accused in the case so far, given this involvement which has not even been disputed by the police. Police sources said that they are investigating this angle and might be filing another case to probe it further.
The Case of the Missing Hard Disk
As per a complaint lodged by Ansi Kabeer's family, the owner of the hotel, Roy Vayalat was involved in the events of that night.
Their suspicion doubled when Valayat and the hotel staff destroyed relevant CCTV footage from the hotel after the car accident. When the probe team recovered the hard disk with CCTV visuals from the hotel, there were no images of the party or any visuals of the hotel’s first and second floors and parking area.
The staff reportedly replaced the original hard disk with an empty one after a technician sent them the procedure to dismantle the hard disk.
The accused told the police that the hard disk containing the CCTV visuals of the party, had been thrown into the water. The police have already searched the vicinity of Kannamgattu bridge at Thevara, Kochi, where the hotel staff claimed to have thrown the hard disk, but they were unable to find it. The search continues with the help of the Fire Force’s scuba team.
Sources told The Quint that the police found that there was an altercation at the party and the models and their friends left the hotel when things got heated up.
With no CCTV footage available, the only witnesses to the issue are the people who were present at the party. However, many participants had not registered for it, so it has been difficult to track them down, police sources said.
Interestingly, the No. 18 Hotel has already been under the observation of the Customs and Enforcement Department on suspicion of holding drug-fuelled parties.
The State Director General of Police had received an intelligence report in May 2021, indicating that the hotel was a trading point for drugs, but no action was taken. Excise officials had raided the hotel on 23 October after reports that alcohol was served after the deadline of 9 pm. The hotel’s bar licence was suspended on 2 November over violations, reported Asianet News.
Kabeer, Anci's father said that he is not dissatisfied with the investigation given the police are still looking into all angles – but wants to ensure that the probe is done in a fair and detailed manner. The families have also submitted petitions to the Chief Minister demanding answers to the mystery surrounding the case.
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