Sunday, 5 Jul 2020

Family, friends trying to come to terms with man's killing in Phuket resort

A Singapore-based IT consultant, who was killed in front of his wife while on holiday in Phuket, was cremated yesterday, as family members and friends struggled to come to terms with what happened.

In the early hours of last Wednesday, the last night of his family’s short vacation in Phuket, a Norwegian tourist allegedly barged into their hotel room and fatally attacked Amitpal Singh Bajaj, 34.

Responding to The Sunday Times after Mr Amitpal’s cremation yesterday, his wife Bandhna Kaur Bajaj said the couple had never laid eyes on the tourist, 53-year-old Roger Bullman, before the attack.

“The mere fact that he was a complete stranger attacking us is the biggest question of them all,” said the 34-year-old Singaporean housewife who has been married to Mr Amitpal, a British national, for nine years. The trip was only their second vacation since the birth of their 20-month-old son, Veer.

The trio had already spent two nights at the popular Centara Grand Beach Resort when they were roused by the sound of someone banging on their balcony door at around 4am.

According to Ms Bandhna, Bullman broke through the door and charged into their room.

Mr Amitpal urged her to grab their son and run as Bullman lunged at him, placed him in a choke-hold, and released him only when security was called to the scene, according to media reports.

Mr Amitpal was then taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Bullman was later charged in Thailand with causing harm resulting in death, and has been released on bail.

After the victim’s funeral yesterday, his widow said her husband was a loving and protective man who had a lot of empathy and always tried understanding the other person’s viewpoint.

Friends also remembered him as an introspective man who liked to ponder how he could improve himself and help others.

His long-time friend, Mr Sunpreet Singh, 36, said Mr Amitpal was someone who respected others. He questioned Thai media reports that said Mr Amitpal had confronted Bullman before the attack.

Mr Sunpreet, a computer consultant, was one of the last people to communicate with Mr Amitpal, having texted him just a few hours before the killing. “I thought it was a bad dream, it just didn’t make sense,” he said.

He recalled how his friend developed an app, Basics of Sikhis, for the Sikh community, but was determined not to claim credit for it and did not charge a cent for doing so.

Friends and family said many questions about the incident remain unanswered and there have been no updates on the case.

Said Ms Bandhna: “Why did he (Bullman) break into our room and make our lives a living nightmare?”

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