Eiko Shinozaki, the mother of 21-year-old Japanese student Kota who went missing under mysterious circumstances from Agra in Uttar Pradesh in September 2006, is on her fourth visit to India seeking intensification of investigations into his whereabouts.
“I believe that a few things are still to be resolved. Please help me find my son. I really would like to take him home this time,” pleaded Ms. Shinozaki at a press conference here on Monday. Accompanied by her daughter, Ms. Shinozaki said she has been getting updates on developments in the case through Japanese Embassy officials in the Capital.
Ms. Shinozaki’s family friend professor Ohashi Masaaki, said investigations conducted so far had thrown up crucial contradictions in the statements of Raju, the car driver who had taken Kota to Jaipur and then to Agra, and Japanese-speaking guide Lalta Prasad Gautam, that needed to be resolved to take the probe forward.
Kota had landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here in the early hours of September 3, 2006, and had purchased a tour package through a local travel agent.
The police have found that Raju had introduced Kota to Gautam, who took him to the Taj Mahal on September 5, the day he went missing. The receptionist of the hotel where Kota had checked in at Agra, said that he had gone out in the night along with the driver and another man, probably the guide.The subsequent sequence of events is not clear.
Prof. Masaaki said the UP police last year decided to make some hotel staff, the driver and the guide undergo narco-analysis test, but Gautam went missing from his house leaving behind a letter suggesting that he would commit suicide.
Through unofficial sources, Kota’s parents learnt that during the test Raju disclosed that he went to a local restaurant with Kota and Gautam on the night of September 5 and then he saw Kota and Gautam going out of the restaurant on a cycle-rickshaw. The hotel manager purportedly confessed that he had stolen money from Kota’s bag and signed on a check-out card imitating Kota’s signature.
A breakthrough came in February this year when Gautam, who according to Kota’s family has emerged as a prime suspect, was detained by the police at Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. However, Prof. Masaaki said Gautam contradicted Raju’s version and said that he and Kota had not gone out of the restaurant on a rickshaw after dinner on that fateful night.
“Clearly, there are contradictions that should be explained through appropriate investigation by the Agra police,” said Prof. Masaaki, adding that Kota’s mother and sister would meet the UP police in this regard. They would also contact the State Government representatives and meet Gautam – who is in custody – and Raju in a bid to trace Kota.