Guwahati: Four years ago, Pravish Chanam, a 22-year-old from Imphal, arrived in Delhi to catch a concert by an American electronic DJ and production duo The Chainsmokers. He reached the concert venue, the India Exposition Mart, on time on September 8.
It was a joyous occasion for the youngster, there with his friends. But as it turned out, this was the last time a friend saw him alive.
Four years from the day, his family in Manipur remains waiting; hoping for answers, praying for justice.
Although Pravish entered the concert, he went missing after a few hours. At first, his friends thought he was with other friends, but when Pravish did not return from the concert, they informed his brother, Ravikant Chanam. The next day, Ravikant registered a missing complaint with Knowledge Park Police Station, Greater Noida.
But the police did little to help, and instead, their actions (or the lack of it) along with the questionable attitude of hospital authorities, have left a family living thousands of km away in Manipur with several questions and no answers.
Between going missing and death: A timeline of the next day
Through meticulous research, the family and legal team of Pravish have traced the next (and last) day in Pravin’s life. On the night of September 8, Pravish was brought to the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Multispeciality Hospital, located about 29 km from the venue. The medical staff present at the concert found him unconscious, close to the venue. He was treated at night and stabilised at the hospital. On September 9, he gained consciousness and as per the hospital’s CCTV camera, around 6:30 am he walked out of the hospital as captured by the facility’s CCTV camera. The footage showed him going out of the hospital.
Pravish returned to the hospital about 30 minutes later with a bottle of water in his hand. He sat down, roamed around a little and left the premises again, about 30 minutes later, around 7:30 – 7:45 am.
After this, he was spotted around 3:30 pm in Sector 20, near Murga Mandi, in Nithari village, located about 4 km from the Bhimrao Hospital, where he was seen walking briskly on the road.
About 30 to 45 minutes later (4:00 to 4:15 pm), another CCTV footage showed him walking, sitting on a rickshaw, then next to a roadside vendor asking for water. After getting water, his mouth began to fill with froth. Concerned, people then called the police and rushed him to the hospital.
Pravish was declared dead on arrival at the same hospital around 4.30 pm.
The family has several questions for the UP Police, regardless of which specific police station dealt with the case.
No questions answered: Chanam’s family
“I went on September 9 to the nearest police station, Knowledge Park, and did the official paperwork. On September 10, 11 and 12, Knowledge Park Police Station did nothing. They did not even publish the Gumshuda paper. I published the paper, but it was just lying on their table. They did not do anything, so we contacted the Manipur Police and the Northeast Helpline,” recalled Ravikant.
Pravish was cremated on September 13 as an unclaimed body by the police authorities in Noida with due consent from the Hospital Authorities. On September 14, the family found out about Pravish Chanam’s death, autopsy and cremation, which were all done without the family’s knowledge, despite the deceased’s brother Ravikant having filed a missing complaint about his brother on September 9.
“We found out on September 14 morning that he was cremated on 13,” said Ravikant. The pain of being informed of your son’s cremation has never left Jugindro Singh. “As a father, I would like to ask, is there a law to cremate someone’s body after the family has already filed a missing report in UP or anywhere in the world?” he asked.
The post mortem report mentioned several injuries on the body of the deceased, which made the family members suspect a case of negligence on the part of local police and Hospital Authorities. Chanam’s family claims that there was clear criminal intent behind his death and cremation.
On September 16, his cousin Phanjoubam Linthoingam visited senior officials and questioned them as to why the missing report was not circulated in Noida’s police stations despite the family having filed the report on September 9.
The hospital authorities also appeared to be at fault for not asking a 22-year-old boy anything, even when he gained his senses on the morning of September 9. The hospital had absolutely no details about Pravish. All entries about him, in the hospital, were unnamed.
“We never found the accused. We had witnesses, but they refused to give a statement later; I don’t know who they were afraid of, but they were afraid,” said Ravikant, talking about how people from nearby villages backed out of giving statements about the incident.
A few days after Pravish’s death, protests broke out in Delhi and parts of Manipur in September 2017. The CBI took over the case for further investigation, following a lapse in a proper investigation by Noida Police after much pressure from the Manipur Government.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had met with Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath to discuss a detailed probe into Pravish Chanam’s death.
The family had also approached Najma Heptulla, Manipur Governor for help in this regard.
“I am certain that the hospital and Nithari Police were involved in my son’s murder. I am sure that they have taken all my son’s organs out. People of Manipur protested in Delhi and Manipur for justice, that is when the case was finally transferred to CBI,” said Chanam Jugindro Singh.
“The post-mortem was not performed as per the regulation, and pictures or videos were not taken. They have tempered the registration book,” alleged Ravikant Chanam, who also suspects that his brother’s organs may have been removed for trafficking or sale.
The Investigation officer of CBI then conducted the investigation and filed a Closure report on December 18, 2020. The report concluded the death to be an accident.
“In view of the facts and circumstances as mentioned and evidence that has come on record during the investigation, the death of Pravish Chanam appears to be accidental,” read the CBI report.
With the statements of the witnesses and other documents filed by the CBI Officer, the family believes that the investigation was not done in the right manner. They accuse the IO of deliberately letting off the accused persons.
The family filed the protest petition against the Closure Report for irregularities, incomplete and inappropriate investigation done by the CBI investigation officer.
They requested the court to direct the Central Bureau of Investigation to pursue further investigation. “I, on behalf of the family, filed a petition requesting the court to order a reinvestigation by a competent Investigation Officer of CBI, replacing the present investigating officer,” Dushyant Kumar, the advocate representing the family’s case, told EastMojo.
“The CBI said that the death was a normal death and there was no criminal intent behind the death whereas, we have been saying that the deceased has either been murdered or something criminal has happened to him; it was not a normal death,” said the Delhi High Court Advocate.
When the murder was evident by the autopsy reports, Kumar said, “I can’t comment on that, as the matter is sub-judice. Everything is on record, but our grievance is that he has been killed by someone,” Kumar added.
The CBI Ghaziabad court will hear the final arguments on September 15 on the protest petition filed by Chanam’s family. For the family, there is every chance the wait for justice will continue.
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