A dead runner, an oddly parked bicycle, Google Earth and a woman who “spoke too soon”

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A MUCH too “properly parked” motorcycle was the first clue. And now, according to police, a mysterious death in the sand dunes of Jaisalmer three years ago was actually a murder that originated in the Bengaluru bicycle racing circuit.

Three years after Asbak Mon T aka Ashfaq Ahmed was found dead, ahead of a prestigious race, Jaisalmer Police recovered their teammates with several national and international victories to their name – Sanjay Kumar aka Tribal Sanjay and Vishwas S D.

Asbak’s wife Sumera Parvez is also named in the alleged murder plot, and Jaisalmer police sources said she was on the run. Police are also examining the role of a few other people associated with Asbak’s Angata racing team.

The team’s main runner, Asbak, 35, was found dead on August 18, 2018, two days after leaving for a practice run for the India Baja Desert Race in Jaisalmer. Sanjay, 35, and Vishwas, 40, who had left with him, returned and said Asbak was lost. He was found injured, in a seated position, with his motocross bike nearby with his helmet on.

The fact that the motorcycle was properly parked despite the injuries gave the first clue that it might not be a starvation death, as previously reported, police said.

The India Baja is a qualifying rally for the prestigious motocross event ‘The Dakar Challenge’ in South America, which took place over a grueling 650 km stretch. The winner of the India Baja 2018 was CS Santhosh, also a rider from Bengaluru.

DSP Bhawani Singh, the investigator in charge of the case, said: “One of the mistakes made by the accused was that after breaking Asbak’s neck, they correctly parked the bicycle on its rack. A medical board said if the cervical vertebrae were fractured, it would lead to death or paralysis. If a person cannot move, how can they park the motorcycle (after presumably having fallen)? This confirmed our suspicion that it was a murder. Additionally, they found semi-digested food in Asbak’s stomach, showing he had had something to eat shortly before his death, while the autopsy attributed the death to external injuries. in the neck.

As they deepened their research, they learned of Asbak’s “strained ties” with his wife, the DSP said, as well as an argument he had had with Sanjay.

Jaisalmer SP Ajay Singh said the case was filed with him on July 9 of last year, a day after taking office. “Officials said a cyclist had died of hunger and thirst. They asked my permission to close the case. I was surprised that someone could starve to death in the 21st century.

The SP said what struck him about the medical report was that Asbak’s cervical vertebrae were ruptured. “Immediate death from paralysis will take place if that happens. He could never have parked his bike. I learned that his bike also contained about half a liter of gasoline, while a check on Google Earth showed that there were hamlets nearby. He could have easily gone if he was hungry, ”Ajay Singh said.

He added that furthermore, while Asbak’s friends said they did not know Sumera, call tapes suggested they were in touch.

Sumera, who came to Jaisalmer after learning of Asbak’s death, gave a statement to the police saying that Sanjay, Vishwas and a videographer, Abdul Sabik, told him he had moved away from them and s ‘was lost. She said she suspected Asbak had starved to death and that she did not suspect anyone.

The DSP said Sumera’s claim that he had starved to death was suspicious. “It doesn’t make sense how she would know, because at the time of her death she was in Bengaluru.”

Jaisalmer Police officials said the case may have slipped under the radar as it coincides with the annual Ramdevra Fair, the district’s biggest event, with most of the forces deployed for it. Shortly thereafter, the 2018 assembly elections became a priority, and after the results the government changed and most of the officials familiar with the matter were transferred.

Asbak’s brother Arshad Mohammed – the family belongs to Kannur in Kerala – said they had suspected Sumera from the start. He said they were first informed by a friend of Asbak based in Dubai that he had an accident and it was serious, and that Sanjay sent a voicemail about it. “When we made panic calls in Jaisalmer, we had conflicting accounts, with one source saying Asbak was dead and another saying he was in the hospital with serious injuries… We couldn’t believe the version Sumera was giving. “

Arshad said another questionable factor was a message from Asbak’s phone to a group of WhatsApp runners saying, “I’m stuck here and I’m going to finish.” “Later, we realized that the place where he was found dead had no mobile coverage and his phone was missing. Then her phone and Sanjay were both found active in the same area.

On September 15, 2018, Asbak’s mother Subeda TK asked Jaisalmer police to investigate the role of Sanjay, Vishwas and Sumera. Police suspicion grew as everyone was evasive. The police finally questioned them at length in November 2020, after their summons to Rajasthan.

While the original case was registered under Article 174 of the CrPC which deals with unnatural deaths, a murder case was eventually registered in December 2020, naming Sanjay, Vishwas and Sabik. Sumera was charged with conspiracy.

In January this year, the three murder defendants applied for early bail, claiming they were falsely involved. Their plea was dismissed as the case was still under investigation.

Asbak, who worked for a major bank in the United Arab Emirates, frequently traveled to Bengaluru for shopping. He and Sumera had originally met in Bengaluru when they both worked in an IT company and continued to have a home in the city. The cycling diaries Asbak posted on travel sites under the name “theherculeanrider” show him as an avid biker who enjoyed long distances with his Royal Enfield ball, often accompanied by Sumera.

After his death, Viswas, now accused in his death, wrote: “A go getter in every way, (Asbak) brought international sponsorships, world-class bikes and riding gear for the team, mindful of the detail, designed each small / big brand itself. , fixes itself the tires, the wheels, the mechanical parts, meticulously planned for the races 90 days in advance.

While Vishwas is a computer consultant by profession, his accused colleague Sanjay runs a cycle station on the outskirts of Bengaluru where he trains young cyclists. His profile on his personal website claims he is a one-time winner of India Baja, among other races, and says, “People call him Tribal Sanjay because of what he is, a wild motorcyclist.”

Raj Kapoor, director of Northern Motorsport, the company that organizes India Baja, said the incident is “extremely shocking to the cycling fraternity”. “The defendants (Sanjay and Vishwas) regularly participate in cycling events and are among the top 10 riders in the country,” Kapoor said.

Of the incident, he said Asbak and the others left to train that day “on a freelance basis”, without informing the organizers. “The area they went to is small. They did not have the required permission to visit it that day.

On Asbak’s relationship with the accused, Jaisalmer Police DSP Singh said: team. A month before the murder, the two had come to a compromise.

He said they believed the murder was hatched by then and that the compromise was part of the plot. “At first glance, the motives appear to be strained relationships and monetary transactions,” Singh said.

With SHAJU PHILIP in Thiruvananthapuram


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