Looking for a murder suspect for 4 years, Australian law enforcement is offering a reward of Rs 5.3 crore for any information on a fugitive who is believed to be hiding in India.
Queensland Police on 3 November announced a record-breaking 1 million Australian dollar reward for the public to provide information on Rajwinder Singh, an Indian nurse wanted for allegedly murdering an Australian woman in 2018.
The Murder: What Do We Know?
Rajwinder Singh is wanted in an ongoing investigation into the murder of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley in Far North Queensland.
Cordingley, a pharmacy worker, was walking her dog on Wangetti Beach, about 40 km from Queensland's Cairns, where she was murdered in October 2018.
She was reported missing on 21 October 2018 before her body was discovered the following morning at Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns.
Rajwinder Singh: What Do We Know?
A resident of Innisfail town, Australia, Singh is originally from Punjab’s Buttar Kalan, in India.
Singh worked as a nurse in Innisfail and is the prime person of interest in the case, but fled the country two days after the murder. While he fled, he left behind a wife, three children, and his job.
Singh’s brother had earlier admitted that Rajwinder arrived at Amritsar airport in mental distress over professional issues. However, little has surfaced since.
Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell AO, in a statement, said that Singh is wanted by Queensland authorities in connection to the murder.
The Million Dollar Reward
Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said that this was the first time that an initial reward as large as one million Australian dollars had been offered in Queensland.
'Arrival in India Confirmed'
According to Australia's 7news.com, Smith said, “We know that Singh departed Cairns on 22 October 2018, the day after Toyah was murdered, and then flew from Sydney to India on the 23 October. His arrival in India has been confirmed.”
She also said that the authorities have confirmed that Singh’s last location was India.
Meanwhile, an investigation centre was established in Cairns and officers who could speak Hindi and Punjabi were flown in. These officers will receive information, about Singh’s whereabouts that surface in India, via WhatsApp, the report added.
Three Queensland police detectives had also travelled to India in an attempt to work alongside Indian authorities.
High Commissioner O’Farrell said that the Australian Police in Delhi has been working with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in relation to the case.
Police Minister Mark Ryan told reporters and appealed, “We know that people know this person, they know where this person is and we're asking those people to do the right thing.”
He added that officials would also consider offering indemnity from prosecution to an accomplice to the crime, only if they were the first person providing information leading to Singh’s arrest. According to Smith, investigations into Toyah’s killing, especially bringing the criminal to justice, are the Queensland Police Service’s top priority.
Australian authorities had made a request to extradite Singh from India in March 2021.
ABC reported that while the next Indian extradition court proceedings were listed for 5 November, they were likely postponed if he is not located.
Family Keeps the Fire Alive
Cordingley’s mother Vanessa Gardinger told reporters, "Her life was taken way too early. I see her friends and stuff getting married with kids and that now and think of everything she has missed out on in her life," ABC reported.
"Her life was taken way too early. I see her friends and stuff getting married with kids and that now and think of everything she has missed out on in her life…She was just about to start her first full-time job on Monday, which never happened."Vanessa Gardinger, Toyah Cordingley’s mother
A spokesperson for the family, Wayne ‘Prong’ Trimble, said that the horrific crime continues to take a toll on Toyah’s family and the community, but also said hat they remained hopeful that justice would be served.
"People are flabbergasted at how long things have taken, and we really haven't had much progress at all...It is frustrating for everyone, especially for the family and there's been a few false alarms.”Wayne ‘Prong’ Trimble, Cordingley family's spokesperson
The community has continued their campaign for justice, with Cordingley's name hanging in shop windows, posters strung on trees and on several car bumper stickers in Cairns.
A business owner on Cairns, Steve Parsonage said that he printed 38,000 stickers since 2018 and continues to hang them.
"It's very sad, and we wanted to help in any way that we could… People are still coming in and asking for stickers, not as many as there once was, but it still happen,” Parsonage said.
(With inputs from 7news.com and ABC)