The Delhi Police said Captain Mukesh Chopra, a discharged officer of the Indian Army who fell to his death in Tihar Jail on November 7, was in touch with a “Chinese person” through a social media app, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. This comes at a time when Chopra’s lawyer and brother have accused the police of branding him a Chinese spy and questioned the circumstances of his death.
Chopra had been arrested on November 2 for allegedly stealing Army strategy-related books from the Manekshaw Centre in Delhi Cantonment, and was sent to judicial custody on November 6. The Tihar Jail authorities claimed that the former Army officer jumped off a building. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into Chopra’s death.
Chopra was detained at the Manekshaw Centre while taking notes during an India-China programme. Sources in the police told The Indian Express that the military intelligence was called in to handle the case. “Local police were informed and he was taken to Delhi Cantonment police station where he was questioned,” the police said. “They found he had $30,000 [Rs 21.47 lakh] in cash and some gold jewellery. Four mobiles were recovered. It was found he had been in constant touch with a China-based individual.”
The police’s initial investigation has found that the 64-year-old had been staying at a guest house of the Aviation Research Centre where his room had been booked by a retired officer.
However, Chopra’s lawyer Deepak Tyagi and his brother doubt the police version of events. “If they had accused him of spying for the Chinese government, then he should have been kept in a secure ward,” said Tyagi. “We have also found that he was not given proper medical care while taken to hospital”.
Rangnesh Chopra, Mukesh Chopra’s brother, claimed that the police interrogated his brother in custody for over 15 hours a day. “He would sleep for only five hours before they would wake him up,” Rangnesh Chopra said. “My brother was a former Indian Army officer and he was branded a spy.”
Chopra had served as a captain with a parachute regiment and was posted in Leh, said a police officer. “He was discharged from service in 1983,” the officer added. He claimed he had property in Chhatarpur and Greater Kailash. He also claimed he had Rs 65 crore in fixed deposits.”
Chopra moved to Canada with his wife and daughter in 1983, and then obtained a United States passport. “He had an Overseas Citizen of India card,” the police officer said. “His passport had a long-term Chinese visa valid till 2025, and in his personal diary, there were names of some members of the Chinese United Front Work Department. He had been visiting India since 2007.”
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