Priti Choksi, fugitive Mehul Choksi’s wife, in an interview to Hindustan Times, has said that her husband is being treated like a criminal in Antigua because of the statements given by the island’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne in the past and that she fears for his life if he is sent back to India.
Calling her husband’s disappearance a ‘hostage situation’, Priti Choksi said the Antiguan government should be focussing on bringing its citizen back.
“We, as a family, are deeply anguished by PM Gaston Browne’s statements. My husband is treated as a criminal here (in Antigua) because of the statements that Mr Gaston Browne has made in the past of calling him a ‘crook’, etc. etc; and on what basis I have no idea. A man who was trying to live his life quietly is being targeted in this manner,” Priti Choksi said over the phone from Saint John’s.
She also discarded Browne’s statements that Mehul Choksi had political connections within the opposition parties and had bribed them. “My husband is not in touch with any political party.”
Asked about the sequence of events from May 23, Priti Choksi said that her husband had gone for dinner and met this woman, Barbara. “When he reached her house to pick her up, she asked him to come inside saying she wanted to show him something. It was daytime so my husband went inside. As soon as he entered, he was accosted by men with Indian and Antiguan accents, they tased him, gagged his mouth, tied him in a wheelchair and put him in a boat. Then he was transferred to another boat. His last seen image is from 5.11 pm on Sunday (May 23) and his phone was last on at 5.16 pm.”
She added that all the CCTV cameras of Jolly Harbour were off around that time.
Choksi went missing on May 23 and was taken into custody by Dominica police two days later. His lawyers have filed a habeas corpus in Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court at Roseau, which has stayed his removal from Dominica for now. Indian government officials have reached there to seek his deportation.
Priti Choksi said – “A crime has been committed. My husband has been taken hostage. It’s an international crime and Interpol should take note of it. And I think that the entire focus of the Antiguan government should be to bring its citizen back. I also want to ask why the Dominican police hasn’t registered an offence of kidnapping.”
On Indian officials’ claim that Choksi continues to be an Indian citizen, she said – “The Indian Constitution says that the moment you take citizenship of another country, you cease to be an Indian citizen. And his Indian passport was suspended in February. So there is no question of dual nationality.”
She said that if the Indian government gets custody of Mehul Choksi, he will become a hostage there.
“After seeing the pictures of his torture, don’t you think we have every right to fear for his life if he is sent to India?” she asked.
She added that Indian agencies till date have refused to take statements from him even though he has offered to give his statement many times.
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