Kolkata JLR crash: Is Parwez family hiding more?

Kolkata, Aug 22 (IANS) Was Raghib Parwez, arrested a day ago for allegedly being at the wheel of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) that was involved in a fatal accident on a Kolkata street last week, under the influence of some intoxicant on the fateful day?

Is that the reason the family of Kolkata's famous Biryani restaurateurs goaded his younger brother Arsalan Parwez, 21, to surrender to the police taking the blame on himself?

These are among some crucial questions confronting the police striving to find missing pieces of the puzzle that seems to be evolving into a riveting whodunnit one usually sees on reel.

As the Kolkata Police detective department's homicide section personnel quiz in custody the two scions of the Arsalan chain of restaurants, they are also trying to gauge if the family was still holding on to some facts and the exact roles played by various members after the car crash on Saturday that killed two Bangladeshi nationals and left three others injured.

One vital answer the sleuths could be looking for is why Raghib decided to return to the city after having fled to Dubai hours after the accident.

A key person could be Mohammad Hamsa, their maternal uncle, who has been arrested for allegedly helping Raghib abscond. He is believed to have sheltered Raghib at a relative's place before he flew off to Dubai.

Arsalan, the original prime suspect, could now face charges of misleading the police for his claim that he was driving the car at the time of accident.

On the family's role in naming Arsalan initially, Murlidhar Sharma, joint commissioner of police (crime), told IANS: "We are investigating the probable reasons of the family putting forward their younger son. On one instance they said they were unable to contact Raghib, they were under pressure and their legal expert gave them this advice.

"This may not be true. We are suspecting Raghib might have been under influence (of some intoxicants). And hence the chain of incidence. But we are still investigating."

On Wednesday, the police hurriedly convened a press meet and claimed that Arsalan, after whom the restaurant chain is named, wasn't driving the car, but his elder brother. It triggered questions surrounding the initial arrest and confession of Arsalan.

"The control panel of the vehicle revealed that Raghib had interacted with it prior to the accident. It confirmed that Raghib, Arsalan's elder brother, was driving the car. He has been arrested from near Beniapukur," Sharma said.

After the accident, the police had served a notice to the family under Section 133 of the Motor Vehicles Act when Arsalan's father Akhtar Parvez admitted that his son(Arsalan) was driving the car, which is registered in the name of the family-owned Arsalan Enterprise Private Ltd. The company runs a chain of restaurants, a facility in Dubai, besides having franchisees and other businesses.

According to sources, while a section of the family has been maintaining that Arsalan confessed to the crime to save his elder brother, others are putting the blame on legal experts for having misguided them. They claim Raghib had returned out of guilt.

However, an investigating officer revealed that after confirming that Raghib was driving the car, they had asked the family to get him back. The police is not ruling out presence of someone else in the car with Raghib.

The examination by the homicide department and forensic and cyber teams revealed that the car's airbag had opened during the accident. This made the cops suspicious of Arsalan's confession.

"If the air bag opens, the driver gets an impact on his body/face, which is known as silicon bite or air bag scrap. Medical examination of Arsalan revealed no such thing. It prompted officers to find out if the car was being driven by someone else," Sharma said.

The investigating officers had also retrieved the mobile number of the person behind the wheels from the vehicle's control panel data and retrieved Raghib's profile picture from his social media account. Later, the CCTV footage of his house was matched with the profile picture of Raghib, seen getting into that car around 11.30 p.m. on Friday.

On scanning his mobile locations and another 45 CCTV footages, frame by frame, and matching his profile picture with that of the person seen fleeing the vehicle after accident, the police realised it was Raghib and not Arsalan.

Also, Arsalan had broken down during investigation and accepted he wasn't driving, but didn't name his brother. The JLR F-Pace's event data recorder (EDR) revealed that it was being driven at 100-120 km per hour.

Moving at a breakneck speed amidst heavy showers, it had rammed a Mercedes E-220 in the wee hours of Saturday at the Shakespeare Sarani-Loudon Street crossing in south Kolkata.

CCTV footage, eyewitness and police accounts suggest the Mercedes took the full impact, rolled over twice and crashed into a Traffic Police kiosk. The kiosk fell on three Bangladeshi citizens, who had taken shelter from the rain behind the structure.

Two of them -- Kazi Mohammad Mainul Alam (36) and Farhana Islam Tania (28) were in Kolkata for medical treatment -- were crushed to death. Kazi Safi Rahmatullah, the third from the group, survived.

The occupants of Mercedes -- Amit Kajaria and his wife Kanika -- are still in hospital. Kajaria almost had his right ear severed, and a plastic surgery has been done to relocate it. Kanika had abdominal bruises, but continues to remain traumatised.

The police had earlier booked Arsalan under Sections 279 (rash driving) and 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

Arsalan, second child of his parents, studied in a reputed English medium school here before travelling to the UK and earning a degree in Business Administration from the University of Edinburgh.

Raghib, the eldest son, looks after the family's business outlets in Mumbai and Dubai.

--IANS

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