Parents of a British Sikh girl who died suddenly while on holiday in India have moved a step closer to getting answers about her mysterious death.
Birmingham-born Gurkiren Kaur Loyal fell ill on a family holiday in Punjab back in April and was being treated for dehydration at a clinic in Khanna when staff reportedly gave her a mystery injection.
The eight-year-old's parents claim her organs were then removed during a post-mortem to cover up the cause of death. Their local councillor, Narinder Kaur Kooner, who has been spearheading a campaign for the return of these organs for a post-mortem in the United Kingdom, has now received an email confirming that the organs are at the Department of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh.
"Now we need to make an approach to them to try and get the organs released and repatriated. We're very excited about that. We've also managed to make contact with Parkash Singh Badal, chief minister of Punjab, who has apparently said ‘Why did they remove the organs? They shouldn't have," she said, following a candlelight vigil in memory of Gurkiren held in Birmingham on Saturday.
"We don't know what the timescale is for this. But the fact they've confirmed the organs are at the facility is a real breakthrough -- we want to pursue that as quickly as possible," she added.
Hundreds of candles spelt out the word "justice" at Centenary Square in the heart of the city as family members and well-wishers gathered in memory of the local schoolgirl.
"We need to get justice, not just for Gurkiren but for others in a similar situation out there. It’s a long process," said her mother, Amrit Kaur Loyal.
The family also carried buckets around Birmingham city centre raising cash for their campaign Justice4Gurkiren and collected signatures demanding a change in the law. UK pathologists have been unable to carry out their own post-mortem tests on Gurkiren's body to establish a cause of death because of the missing organs. The Birmingham coroner's office has requested their return.
Amrit Loyal and the girl's father Santokh Singh recently also arranged a meeting with UK Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire in a bid to ramp up pressure on the Indian authorities.
Image: Picture for representation only
Photograph: Andy Clark/Reuters