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Canada deaths: Missing Gujarat family's descriptions match those discovered frozen to death

Local residents who knew the family said they flew to Canada on visitor visas last Monday, for their first trip to foreign

Canada deaths: Missing Gujarat familys descriptions match those discovered frozen to death

Dingucha hamlet in Kalol tehsil in Gandhinagar district has become the centre of attraction in the region a day after it was revealed that four persons died in Canada after reportedly attempting to cross the border illegally into the United States.

On Saturday, police arrived in the area and reportedly summoned a man whose family members had lately travelled to Canada and are now missing.

The descriptions of the missing members of the Dingucha family — a 39-year-old man, his 37-year-old wife, their 17-year-old daughter, and their four-year-old son — match those of the four people found frozen to death in the Canadian province of Manitoba on Wednesday, according to police and relatives.

The police had inquired about the family's travel intentions, according to village sarpanch Mathurji Thakor.

"A team from Nardipur police outpost arrived at my residence on Saturday night to inquire about the family from our village. They asked me if I knew any close relatives of the family. We at the panchayat do not keep records of people travelling overseas," Thakor said.

People in the village who know the family stated they arrived in Canada on visiting visas last Monday. This was their first trip abroad, and they hadn't spoken to their relatives since Wednesday, the day the four deaths were discovered near Emerson, Manitoba, on the country's border with the United States. The family was part of a group of 11 Gujaratis who were allegedly attempting to enter the United States through Canada.

Gandhinagar Collector Kuldeep Arya told, "We have not received any official communication from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) regarding the identity of the deceased people yet. The villagers have been informed of the same."

KK Desai, police inspector, Kalol Taluka police station, said, "As per our records, the family went to Canada on visitor visas so there is no ground for investigation unless we are intimated by the MEA… However, a team did visit the village on Saturday and we have found that there is a family of five there, four of whom had gone to Canada leaving behind the sexagenarian grandfather. We have found out that he has now moved to Ahmedabad to stay with his younger brother."

Amritbhai Vakil (69), a relative of the missing family, said: "I visited their house on Friday and congratulated the man's father saying that his son and daughter-in-law were about to build new lives, and there was nothing to worry. He told me that he was unable to contact them. On Saturday, I heard about the dead Indian family on TV."

Vakil has lived in the United States for 33 years and is known in the hamlet as "NRI kaka." He just returned to Dingucha, a wealthy urban town 40 kilometres from Gandhinagar, where many of the bungalows, which belong to people who live overseas or elsewhere in Gujarat, are empty and closed.

According to the 2011 census, the village had a population of 3,280 people and 1,300 homes. Patidars and Thakors account for 40% of the population, with the Prajapati and Darbar communities accounting for the remainder. A government primary school, a private senior secondary school, and a primary health care centre created by the people themselves are all located in the village.

"The people of Dingucha are basically into business, farming, and private jobs. Families have moved out of here to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, and purchased homes there as well. The NRIs usually return to the village every year for a week during Diwali," said Kirit Prajapati, a clerk at Gandhinagar secretariat building, who lives in Dingucha.

Residents of the community, according to Vakil, have been calling relatives in other countries since word of the fatalities in Canada broke.

"A number of friends from Dingucha who now live in the US and Canada contacted me asking if I was aware of the identity of the deceased family. Families in communities such as Patidar, Darbar, and Thakor are close-knit and part of the same clan, which means everyone is distantly related to each other here," Vakil said.

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