Unidentified car followed Kerala model days before fatal crash

Ansi Kabeer and Anjana Shajan who were killed as the car they were travelling crashed to a tree in Kochi on Nov 1. The destroyed vehicle in the inset.

Kochi: Finding an unidentified vehicle could be the turning point in the case pertaining to the death of two young models in a high-speed car crash.

The Crime Branch probing the November 1 road accident has received information that an unidentified car had been following one of the young women on days before the fatal crash.

Investigators have received hints that the models, Ansi Kabeer and Anjana Shajan, left the party at No 18 Hotel after seeing the same car on its premises, in a suspected escape bid.

Police were now trying to ascertain whether the same car, belonging to Saiju Thankachan, had followed the models on previous occasions. Thankachan had reportedly followed the models on the fateful night in his Audi car.

Investigators were tipped off of the unidentified car by the representative of a Thrissur local body. He deposed before the police that he had noticed a car tailing Shajan's vehicle near Kodakara in Thrissur.

Shajan's relatives have pointed out the representative's statement in the complaint lodged with the Crime Branch. Investigators have collected surveillance camera visuals of the unidentified car.

The same car had reportedly followed Miss Kerala, 2019, Ansi Kabeer, a week before the crash. Anjana Shajan was the runner-up of the Miss Kerala-2019 pageant.

It has been suspected that Roy Joseph Vayalat, the owner of No 18 Hotel at Fort Kochi, and his employees destroyed a digital video recorder containing visuals of the unidentified car arriving at the hotel on October 31.

The models and two of the friends were speeding towards Thrissur from the party held at the hotel when the car they were travelling swerved off the road and crashed into a tree on the median near Chakkaraparambu on the Vyttila-Edappally stretch of the bypass early on November 1. While Basheer and Shajan were killed instantly, their friend Mohammad Ashiq died a few days later.

Investigators were also checking the call records of the models' phones. Finding the owner of the unidentified vehicle that had followed the models would lead to the crucial arrest in the case.

Crashed car to undergo forensic test

Police investigating the crash that killed two models and their friend will subject the ill-fated car to a forensic examination.

The youngsters were killed when the speeding car went out of control after hitting a two-wheeler and crashed into the median near Chakkaraparambu here early on November 1.

Investigators decided to conduct the forensic test after the incident attained more serious dimensions than being a case of drunken driving.

The forensic test would check the veracity of the statement provided by Mala, Thrissur resident Abdul Rahman, who escaped the accident with injuries. Rahman was driving the car when it swerved off the road and crashed, killing Ansi Kabeer and Anjana Shajan instantly. Another occupant Mohammed Ashiq died a few days later while undergoing treatment.

It has been suspected that the car was leaking its brake fluid, used for the smooth operation of hydraulic brakes. Low brake fluid could affect the vehicle's braking capability. Police will also inspect the spot where the car was parked at No 18 Hotel. The models had attended a party at the hotel before leaving for Thrissur.

Meanwhile, the Crime Branch police would record the statements of all who were present at the hotel on October 31. The decision to record the statements was made after it was found that the visuals from the CCTV cameras installed in the Fort Kochi hotel were destroyed.

Police have not yet confirmed the presence of a VIP in one of the hotel rooms on October 31 night. It has been rumoured that the VIP was a senior police officer.

It has been suspected that the hotel owner, Roy Joseph Vayalat, directed his employees to destroy the CCTV visuals to cover up the presence of the VIP.

Saiju Thankachan still missing

The whereabouts of Saiju Thankachan, who reportedly followed the models in his car before the crash, is still unknown.

The man has been missing ever since the police recorded the statement of Abdul Rahman, who was driving the ill-fated car.

Rahman reportedly told investigators that he had to accelerate to shake off Thankachan, who was tailing his car. Police were also told that Thankachan had intercepted the car and asked the models to stay overnight at his residence.

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