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Oz: first break in Indian kid's death probe

Press Trust Of India
Mar 07, 2010 at 02:44pm IST

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Melbourne: Australian police probing the unnatural death of a three-year-old Indian boy in Melbourne claimed a breakthrough on Sunday, saying they are searching for a car seen at the place where the child was found dead three days ago.

A green VR or VT Holden Commodore was seen at the place where Gurshan Singh Channa was found dead on Thursday. According to local media, homicide detectives want to talk to anyone who saw that car. The development is the first solid lead that detectives have announced since launching the investigation.

Police are also operating an information caravan at Oaklands Junction, where the toddler's body was found, six hours after he disappeared from a Lalor rental property which his parents shared with friends and family.

MOTHER AND CHILD: Gurshan Singh Channa with his mother in a family photo.

They are hoping someone comes forward with information. Till now, no cause has yet been determined for the death of Gurshan, whose body is still lying in a city morgue awaiting cremation.

Gurshan’s parents Harpreet Kaur Channa and Harjit Singh Channa have cancelled their tickets to India, which they had booked for Saturday.

The couple wants their son's body to be cremated in their hometown in Punjab. Authorities are waiting for all toxicology tests to be completed for determining the cause of the death of the boy, after the autopsy failed to point it out.

It may take another two to three days for his family to have access to the body, sources said. Gurshan's parents are being assisted by the community leaders, Federation of Indian Association of Victoria (FIAV) and Indian Consulate to arrange for the cremation.

The FIAV and Indian consulate have agreed to pay the cost of USD 6000 to USD 7000 to take Gurshan's body home when it is released to the family.

"After the autopsy, which failed to reveal any information on the cause of the death, other tests will be completed in next two or three days and then it will be known when the body is being released," a source preferring anonymity told PTI.

Police are currently taking statements from the couple, who may not be able to leave the country till all the investigations are completed, the source said.

Gurshan's parents saw his body for the first time on Saturday at the Coroner's Court, two days after it was found. The mother of the toddler returned silent and still, along with two weeping friends, while the father arrived an hour later from the Coroner's Court, stony-faced and grim.

The father's cousin, Ramen Deep Singh, who also viewed the boy's body, struggled to say how the parents were coping. "It was a very hard moment for us. They are totally broken-hearted, depressed. It was very hard for us to take care of them," he was quoted as saying.

"Gurshan's mother, in particular, was totally depressed. The whole family is very upset. They (police) are saying to us they will get the results very soon," he said.

Police said the body, found by a council worker 20 km away from the boy's house, was fully clothed in blue jeans and a grey top.

Gurshan was in Australia on a holiday with his family. His mother rang police after he had been missing for 45 minutes, prompting a massive search involving more than 15 police units, the dog squad and air wing.

The family had arrived in Australia from India on January 9, planning to stay. However, they decided to leave as the father could not find work.

Meanwhile, hundreds of community members, along with the toddler's family, gathered for a prayer meeting at a Melbourne gurdwara here to mourn his death and pay homage to him.

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