Responding to the death of a family of four from Gujarat whose frozen bodies were found near the Canada-US border recently, the Ministry of External Affairs has said that Canadian authorities have informed that the deaths were “determined to be consistent with exposure to outdoor elements”.
Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel (39), Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel (37), Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel (11) and Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel (3), all from the same family and Indian nationals, were found frozen to death near Emerson, Manitoba, approximately 12 metres from the Canada/US border on January 19 by Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Canada’s High Commission of India and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Thursday confirmed their identities.
Addressing a media conference the same day, RCMP superintendent Rob Hill had said that the family had reached Toronto on January 12 and made their way to Manitoba and then to the border town of Emerson on January 18, the day before they were found dead.
Reports said Canadian authorities suspect the deaths could be connected to a human smuggling racket as no vehicles were found near the US-Canada border, indicating that the Patel family may have been dropped off at some point before making their way to the border on foot.
Asked about the incident at a virtual media briefing, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “Our missions in Canada and USA have been following regularly this tragic case of death of four people whose bodies were recovered near the Canada-US border in Manitoba in Canada on 19 January.”
The Canadian authorities have confirmed that all four who perished were Indian nationals who belonged to one family and the next of kin of the deceased have now been informed, he said.
“Canadian authorities have also informed that based on the circumstances, the death of all the persons have been determined to be consistent with exposure to the outdoor elements,” Bagchi said.
“Our High Commission in Ottawa and our Consulate General in Toronto are working closely with the Canadian authorities on all aspects of the investigation and providing consular services to the family of the deceased,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)