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He travels to India seeking justice

By: Alpana Lath 

March 14, 2004


Sanjay Goel lives in Vancouver, Canada. His mother, Asha, was murdered in Mumbai. About 12,287 kms and a long flight separate the two cities. But since August 2003, when the incident occurred, Sanjay has come to Mumbai seven times.


He is determined to ensure that justice is served. In Canada, Sanjay sells cruises: sunshine getaways and pleasure islands. He was planning to send his parents on one such trip on the occasion of their fortieth wedding anniversary, when Asha was murdered.


She was in Mumbai visiting her brother. One Pradeep Parab was arrested in connection with the murder and the investigation was recently handed over to the CID.


"Being here seven times has helped the case. I'm fortunate to have the time and the means to make these trips."


Sanjay's Mumbai visits are about 10 days long. "It's difficult for my team then," he says. "How much longer can I expect them to understand? Even when I'm there, I'm not there. But how can it be otherwise?"


For Sanjay and his family, a secure upper middle class life has been torn apart and they're still struggling to come to terms with its disruption.


"This doesn't happen to people like us. My parents are ordinary middle class people - they're not industrialists. They went to Canada 40 years ago with eight Canadian dollars. They were just doctors who worked very hard - my father's a great surgeon and my mother, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, delivered 10,000 babies in Canada. How did we get tied up in this?"


To find the answer, Sanjay plays two roles. In one, he is a travel and tourism professional in Vancouver. In the other, he establishes contact with a long list of people in India who, he hopes, might help the case. He spends a few hours every morning (Canada time, when it's late night in India) and a few hours every evening keeping in touch with people in India connected to the investigation.


The hours in between are for sleep and business. Sanjay has joined the club of businessmen that live their lives in multiple time zones, only for very different reasons.


Sanjay is grasping at as many straws as he can find. "We're drawing upon every friend or family member to meet government officials," says Sanjay,

"We've tried everything: we've appealed to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's office, and when the prime minister of Canada, Jean Chr├ętien, was here late last year, our case was on the top of his discussions with Mr Vajpayee."


However, Sanjay finds that he can never do enough. "I'm the one son - her firstborn," he says. "She was my friend, counsellor and guide, I'll never have that. These were the years for her to enjoy her accomplishments. And she's gone."


He's still knocking on doors that he thinks may lead him to the truth. The long distance fight for justice hasn't been easy but Sanjay says he will not give up.


"If I've ever felt like giving up, my mom's determination for us comes to me. I have no doubt that she'd want me to resolve this: not to pursue it on the basis of revenge, but truth and justice. It's difficult for me to move on without finding out what happened.


"My sister says, 'We don't want to lose you, too, to this'. People say you have to allow the healing process. But it hasn't happened for any of us. We are consumed by the how and why."