The Criminal Investigation Department of Gujarat Police on Thursday said officials were trying to trace the location of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chhabil Patel in connection with the murder of former BJP legislator Jayanti Bhanushali, PTI reported.

Bhanushali, a former vice president of the saffron party in the state, was shot dead by unidentified people early on Tuesday in the Sayaji Nagari Express. He was travelling from Bhuj to Ahmedabad.

Patel, his son and four others were named suspects in the first information report filed on Wednesday at the Gandhidham railway police station.

Chhabil Patel’s son Siddharth Patel had earlier claimed that his father was in the United States for work but the police have not yet verified it. “We cannot believe someone’s claim blindly,” Superintendent of Police (CID) Bhavna Patel was quoted as saying. “People can claim anything. We are still probing this aspect.” A seven-member special investigation team is conducting inquiries.

Deputy Superintendent of Police JP Raol said Ahmedabad airport authorities have been asked to provide data on the people who flew out of the country during the time of the murder. “It is still a matter of investigation as to where Chhabil Patel is,” Raol said. “We have sought some information from the Ahmedabad airport authorities to find out if he has fled to another country.”

Bhanushali, who was a state legislator from 2007 to 2012, had resigned from the party post in July after a 21-year-old woman from Surat accused him of rape and moved the Gujarat High Court. He had denied the allegations. The woman later withdrew the case.