Murder #19, Ramnit Chander, Southall
Ramnit Chander, 32, was found dead at a house in Sussex Road, Southall, west London, on February 10, 2011. Detectives were called to the address in Sussex Road by the landlord at 5.45pm and at first believed the death was not suspicious. A postmortem later confirmed he had been assaulted.
My notes remind me that I went to Sussex Road almost a month after Ramnit Chander was found dead in his flat. I would not call it a flat. It was a room in what looked like a converted brick shed behind some shops. He lived in slum housing. Just from looking at his lodgings I knew Chander lived an existence that could be described as an invisible in the margins of society.
It took a few weeks for the case to be considered a murder. It was the first murder of my project that was in West London. Most had been in Northeast London so far. I took the train to Southall from Paddington and enjoyed the long walk through the southern end Southall, with its Sikh/Indian vibe that seemed unspoilt by tourism in the way Brick Lane had. When I got to Sussex Road, I had a difficult time locating the location of where Chander had died. I stepped into a few shops asking if anyone knew and most feigned ignorance or declined to talk to me. Finally one young man showed me. Nothing marked the spot as a location of a violent crime except a small piece of police tape still on the black metal gate. The whole scene was ugly. I peeked over the gate and saw the small courtyard strewn with trash. The shed like flat where Chander had died seemed to be newly occupied with a new tenant.
So the 19th murder in London in 2011 had claimed another immigrant. I can’t help but ponder about people who journey so far away from their birth to meet such sorrowful ends to their lives. I sensed that Chander had struggled in the 10 years he had lived in London. Never rising above the poverty that he probably thought he was escaping when he left the Punjab. The case into his murder 2 years later remains unsolved. His death barely made news beyond the local papers in west London. According to police reports it seems that his life was “Sketchy” to detectives trying to figure out the circumstances of his death. I suspect that there are thousands of migrants like Ramnit Chander living below the radar. Invisible to us all, hiding out in the edges of London.