Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

UK couple ‘had 11-year-old son stabbed to death to claim £150,000 insurance payout’

Pair arranged for boy to be abducted and attacked by men on motorbikes during adoption process, court papers say

Jane Dalton
Thursday 17 October 2019 16:45 BST
Gopal Sejani was murdered two years ago in Gujarat
Gopal Sejani was murdered two years ago in Gujarat

A couple are facing attempts to extradite them to India over claims they arranged the murder of their 11-year-old adopted son so they could claim a life insurance payout.

Gopal Sejani, a farm boy, was abducted by two men on motorbikes, stabbed and left by a road in Gujarat, India, in 2017.

Arti Dhir, and Kaval Raijada, who deny the allegations, were in the process of adopting him and had taken out an insurance policy on him worth about £150,000, which would pay out after 10 years or if the boy died, it has been claimed.

Britain rejected requests to extradite the pair to face trial in India on human rights grounds, but now the Indian government has won leave to appeal against the decision.

Ms Dhir, 55, and Mr Raijada 30, went to Gujarat to adopt an orphan in 2015, and, according to court documents, Indian authorities say they placed an advert in a local newspaper for an adoption.

The couple, from Hanwell, west London, who had no children of their own, became guardians for Gopal, who was living with his older sister and her husband, Harsukh Kardani.

As adoption papers were being prepared, the pair arranged for his murder, the documents allege.

Gopal’s brother-in-law, Mr Kardani, was also attacked as he tried to defend the boy. Both died of their injuries in hospital later that month.

According to the authorities, Ms Dhir made two premium payments, each of £15,000, but the policy never paid out.

“After a few days she took out an insurance policy in his name,” Superintendent Saurab Singh of Junagadh Police, in Gujarat, told the BBC.

“It was a huge amount and she paid two premiums, knowing very well that in the event of Gopal’s death, she would be paid 10 times the insured amount.”

Authorities say two previous attempts had been made on the boy’s life.

Officers in India arrested a suspect who they said was a friend of the couple. He is one of four men arrested in India for alleged involvement. The investigations are continuing.

Ms Dhir and Mr Raijada, who face six charges in India, including conspiracy to murder and kidnapping, were arrested in the UK in June 2017.

However, in July this year, a judge in London refused their extradition.

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot found there was sufficient evidence to justify their extradition but that they would be subjected to a double life term without parole if convicted in India, which would breach their human rights.

She said if extradited, the pair could be given “an irreducible sentence” and a lack of a review would be “inhuman and degrading”.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The Indian authorities’ appeal is expected to be heard in late January.

The court papers say the couple deny there is a prima facie case against them, and are on bail pending an appeal.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in