Missing: Tej Chitnis (Victoria, Australia)
Tej Chitnis, a young man from Victoria, Australia, has been missing since Wednesday April 27, 2016. On the day in question, Tej - then 21 years of age - left his Burwood East address at approximately 10am in the morning, driving his silver 2005 VW Golf Hatchback. Family members assumed Tej would drive his vehicle to Blackburn Railway Station, park his car on a nearby street, and catch public transport to Deakin University, as they believed he often did.
However, it would later emerge that Tej had not, in fact, attended university in over a year before his disappearance, despite what he had been telling his parents.
“He’d leave the house telling us he’d be going to uni, and told us he wanted to apply for medicine, and we were all taking his word for it — when he says ‘I got a HD for this’, I’m not going to go and ask him for his transcript, I just took it at face value,” Mr Chitnis, Tej's father, is quoted as saying in an article published in Melbourne's Herald Sun.
On the day of his disappearance, Tej and his family had plans to get together the same evening for the celebration of Tej's father's 60th birthday, and Tej had reportedly told his parents 'not to leave without him'.
90 minutes following his departure from his Burwood East home, Tej's vehicle was spotted on CCTV footage in Healesville, Victoria, approximately 50 kilometres from Tej's home. 15 minutes after this sighting, the last recorded usage of Tej's mobile phone was recorded, also in the Healesville area.
Since that time, there has been no sighting of Tej, nor any record of Tej's movements. His mobile phone and credit cards have not been used, and, despite Tej's vehicle registration being flagged, there has also not been any sighting of Tej's car since the final sighting in Healesville.
"It's a constant nightmare. It's the not knowing that's the nightmare," Mrs Chitnis, Tej's mother, said.
Tej is described as 170-175cm tall, of Indian appearance (his parents having migrated to Australia from India before Tej's birth), medium build, brown eyes and black hair. He turned 23 years old on the 22nd November in 2017.
The family maintains a Facebook page hoping to find Tej, and further information can be found via the Australian Federal Police's Missing Persons register.
SPECULATION AND THEORY: Unfortunately, with the news that Tej had failed to attend university for over a year (despite insisting to his parents that he had been), and his out of character disappearance right before an important family event - despite Tej being noted as 'family oriented' - it seems likely that Tej may have intended to commit suicide, or met with an accident. What stands out as most puzzling, however, is the fact that Tej's vehicle has still not been located.
This could potentially indicate that Tej may have driven his vehicle in to a body of water, where the vehicle (and Tej) remain submerged and out of view, and given that Victoria Police do not know Tej's intended final destination, it would be extraordinarily difficult to locate the particular body of water in which this may have occurred. It is also worth mentioning that Healesville, where Tej was last spotted, is surrounded by bushland, and it is not entirely unfeasible to imagine that Tej may have managed to disappear amongst that same bushland. Yet, again, it seems most peculiar that Tej's vehicle remains undiscovered.
It cannot be ruled out that Tej may have met with foul play, however, it stands out as more likely that Tej 'disappeared' intentionally. For the sake of his family and friends, I sincerely hope that Tej is located soon.
If you have any information that can assist police in locating Tej, you are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.