An Indian-Canadian brother-sister duo on Monday appeared before a court in Canada to face extradition to India in an alleged honour killing case.
Jaswinder ‘Jassi’ Sidhu was 24 when she was murdered in 2000 and her body dumped in a canal in Ludhiana district. Her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle Surjit Singh Badesha are facing extradition to India for charges of conspiracy to commit murder. The two appeared before British Columbia Supreme Court justice Gregory Fitch.
Jaswinder had met — and fallen in love with — an autorickshaw driver, Sukhwinder Singh (nicknamed Mithu), during a visit to Jagraon in Ludhiana district in the mid-1990s. Jody Wright, who worked with Jaswinder at a Coquitlam beauty salon, testified that she had married Mithu secretly in March 1999. Jaswinder’s family, who did not approve of the match, got to know about the marriage by the end of that year, Wright told the court.
Jaswinder had admitted to marrying Mithu after “intense interrogation” by her family, who did not like the youth as he belonged to a poor family.
Fitch heard that the clandestine union came to light when Jaswinder’s previous boss called her home to say she had left behind some personal items. A family member picked up those items and found a marriage certificate, CBC news reported. Wright said Jaswinder spent the final months of her life in fear of her family.
Jaswinder arranged a code with Wright, the receptionist at the salon, that would initiate a call to the police. Wright said she made that call twice. Weeks before her death, Wright and another friend testified that Jaswinder ran away from home. Her bank accounts had been frozen, so she borrowed money to go to India and planned to bring her husband home with her to Canada.
“She was excited about her marriage and she was working on getting his immigration papers and she was hoping her family would eventually accept him once he came over,” testified Belinda Lucas, another co-worker.
After Jaswinder’s family found out about her marriage, Lucas said she was escorted into work by two of her uncles. One of them, who she identified as Badesha, told the salon owner that Jaswinder was not to be allowed to leave work during the day or make any phone calls. She was brought into work and picked up every day.
Lucas agreed that, based on her discussions with Jaswinder, she believed the latter’s mother was unhappy at being forced to choose between loving and supporting her daughter and the wishes of her brother (Badesha), a wealthy businessman.
Jaswinder Sidhu and her husband Mithu were attacked near Kaonke Khosa village in Ludhiana district in June 2000. He survived the attack, while Jaswinder was kidnapped and later murdered. Her body was found in a canal near Ludhiana on June 9, 2000. After a month-long investigation, the Ludhiana police claimed to have solved the murder case with the arrest of 11 accused, including inspector Joginder Singh (then in-charge, CIA staff, Ludhiana). The police called it a contract killing.
On October 21, 2005, the court had convicted seven of murder - inspector Joginder Singh, Gurwinder Singh Cheema, Darshan Singh, Hardev Singh, Gursharan Singh, Anil Kumar and Ashwani Kumar. The court had acquitted four others.