London, September 3, 2023: As per media reports, the barrister representing the India-based sister and mother of pro-Khalistan separatist Avtar Singh Khanda has formally made a request to the UK chief coroner for an inquest to be carried out into Khanda’s death, claiming he died in “highly suspicious circumstances”.
According to the news published in Times of India, Michael Polak, who also represents Mehul Choksi, said at Church Court Chambers in London on Monday: “We have made a request to the chief coroner under Section 3 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 for him to direct a senior coroner to conduct an investigation into Avtar’s death.” He said he was calling for a current or former high court judge to be appointed in a different area of the UK owing to a “lack of trust between the Sikh community and West Midlands police”.
A small protest also took place outside the India high commission in London by Khalistan activists on Monday, many wearing masks and calling for an inquiry into Khanda’s death. Two protesters could be seen walking around with the India flag attached to their shoes and stamping on it. There were barricades around India House and the shutters were down. But far fewer protesters turned up than organisers expected.
“We feel it should be a senior judge as where there is evidence that may have to be heard in camera, such as evidence from security services, inquests can’t hear that evidence, so if that happens it needs to be morphed into an inquiry,” Polak said.“Given what we know about Canada and the deaths of Sikhs activists around the world we say there is a suspicion Avtar died in suspicious circumstances.”
The chief coroner’s spokesman said: “Yes, the chief coroner has received the letter and will respond in due course.” An inquest can be held even though Khanda’s funeral has taken place. Inquests take place in the UK when a coroner has reason to suspect there was a violent or unnatural death or the cause is unknown.
Khanda, who worked as a removalist, died at Birmingham City Hospital on June 15 after being diagnosed with blood cancer.
His family claim he was poisoned. Polak claimed there were a number of threats to Khanda’s life and alleged that Indian security officials had called him several times.
Khanda’s death certificate said he died from acute myeloid leukaemia and pulmonary embolism.
Polak said: “We think the leukaemia was either misdiagnosed and it was symptoms related to poisoning or the leukaemia may have been caused by poisoning.”
Polak said that West Midlands police had concluded it was not an unnatural death and based on that the West Midlands coroner decided that there was no suspicion in relation to his death. “They refused to do a post-mortem as the coroner did not feel the need for it. There was a request for a private post-mortem exam to take place but steps were put in place that made that very difficult and so no post-mortem was carried out,” Polak said. –The Times Of India.