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Officials try to identify the bodies of the family who came from India to the US on foot

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

Published Thursday, January 27, 2022 2:43 PM EST

Last updated Thursday, January 27, 2022 4:01 PM EST

WINNIPEG – Mounties is requesting information about the deaths of four Indian nationals in Manitoba near the Canada-US border last week whose bodies were found frozen.

The Indian High Commission in Ottawa and Manitoba RCMP has released the family identities of the four people who died. They were Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, a 39-year-old man, Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel, a 37-year-old woman, the paranoid Jagdishkumar Patel, an 11-year-old girl, and the religious Jagdishkumar Patel, a three-year-old boy.

Investigators believe the family was attempting to cross the border on foot in severe winter weather on January 19 and died after coming in contact.

Police provided some information about the family’s travels from the Gujarat region in western India.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Rob Hill said the family, which includes the mother, father and their two children, arrived in Toronto on January 12, 2022, and was their first entry point.

Hill said the family then moved to Manitoba but could not confirm the date of their arrival. Police believe the Patel family was abandoned near the border around January 18 and tried to walk.

The RCMP is asking anyone with information regarding family time in Canada to come forward. This could include people who interacted with them at restaurants, gas stations or hotels.

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“Think about what they went through and move on,” Hill said.

The Indian High Commission said in a release that close relatives of the family have been informed.

“The Consulate General of India in Toronto is in touch with the family of the deceased and is providing all consular assistance. The High Commission extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims.”

A special team, led by a senior consular official from the Consulate General of India, is in Manitoba to assist with the investigation on behalf of Canada and provide services to the victims, the release said.

The Manitoba RCMP found bodies near Emerson, Mann, after US Border Patrol agents advised them they had picked up a group of Indian citizens on the American side.

Investigators have said they believe the deaths are linked to a human trafficking scheme.

Two people were found in a van along with a man who is now facing charges of human trafficking. A group of five people were picked up by Border Patrol officers a short distance away.

One of the persons found a bag full of items for an infant. He told investigators that he was carrying bags for a group that had separated from him.

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Deltona, Fla. Steve Shand is accused of transporting or attempting to transport illegal aliens. He was released from custody on Monday.

Court documents said the man found with the bag told authorities that his group had been walking for 11 hours in the freezing cold. The man said he had paid a large sum of money to obtain a fake student visa in Canada and was hoping to visit a relative’s home in Chicago, the documents said.

Police in Gujarat have launched an in-depth investigation into the deaths of four Indian migrants.

Gujarat Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia said investigators were trying to find out if there was a travel agent in India who helped the group.

The Indian High Commission said that talks are on with Canada when it comes to issues related to migration and welfare of citizens residing in any country.

“Long-term issues this tragedy has focused on the need to ensure that migration and mobility are made safe and legal and that such tragedies do not recur.”

– With files from Hina Alam in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 27, 2022.


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