RICHMOND RCMP told The VOICE on Thursday that they do not consider businessman Raj Bhela’s death as suspicious.
Bhela (aka Rajinder Singh Bhela), 50, of Maple Ridge, who was very politically active and controversial, fell down a flight of stairs in the 11700-block of River Road in Richmond at approximately 9 p.m. on Saturday, January 30. He suffered serious injuries in the fall and was transported to hospital by Emergency Health Services. On February 3, he succumbed to his injuries.
Without naming Bhela, Richmond RCMP in a press release on Wednesday said they were “not aware of the incident until February 5 when the BC Coroners Service requested clarification on the circumstances.” They added: “Members of the Richmond RCMP Serious Crime Unit immediately began investigating.”
The RCMP said: “If you happened to witness this incident, please contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, quoting file number 21-3371. Should you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit them online at www.solvecrime.ca.”
It seems that the Coroners Service wanted a clarification on the location where Bhela fell.
The press release apparently sparked all kinds of rumours in the community because the event where Bhela was injured was reportedly a hush-hush political affair – quite possibly not to attract the attention of the authorities because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Vancouver Sun reported that Bhela’s wife, Reena Rai, confirmed the gathering “was a political event but I don’t want to get into details of who it was for.”
Some interviewed by the newspaper insisted that they really did not know how many people were present and that people were coming and going.
Interestingly, the newspaper reported that Mark Marissen, the well known federal Liberal political strategist, was also present at the meeting.
Richmond RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Ian Henderson told The VOICE that investigators have “pretty much ruled out foul play.” He added: “We’re still investigating, it’s still ongoing, but at this point we don’t have anything to suggest foul play.”
Bhela, who was a former general secretary of Vancouver’s Khalsa Diwan Society’s Ross Street Temple, quit the federal Liberal Party along with other gurdwara members of the so-called moderate group back in December 2014 when the party manipulated the political process to reject businessman Barj Dhahan’s candidature in the Vancouver South riding to nominate Justin Trudeau’s “star” candidate Harjit Sajjan. Bhela told the CBC: “We think this Liberal Party’s been hijacked by the WSO [World Sikh Organization].”
Bhela was back in the spotlight in 2016 when he began to be photographed with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and promoted himself on social media by calling Scheer his “best friend.” Scheer told the media that he was “excited that Raj has taken a leadership role in my campaign.”
But all that came crashing down when the Conservative Party found out about his legal hassles. The National Post reported in 2018: “Court records show that last year TD Bank accused Bhela and his business associates of being part of a fraudulent $500,000 cheque “kiting” scheme, a civil case which resulted in a default judgment in favour of the plaintiffs. Bhela and his associates have also been named in multiple civil suits involving mortgage defaults in the millions.”