Jassi Sidhu’s husband hopes his wife’s killers get punished
The widower of a young British Columbian 'honour' killing victim is one step closer to justice, as the duo accused of arranging his late wife’s murder were ordered extradited to India by a BC Supreme Court judge on Friday.punjab Updated: May 11, 2014 15:27 IST
The widower of a young British Columbian 'honour' killing victim is one step closer to justice, as the duo accused of arranging his late wife’s murder were ordered extradited to India by a BC Supreme Court judge on Friday.
Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha, the mother and uncle of 25-year-old Jaswinder (Jassi) Sidhu who was found stabbed to death in Punjab in June 2000, will now stand trial in India where they’re accused of murder and conspiracy.
“Today is a great day of my life. I salute the Canadian court,” Jassi’s husband Mithu told Vancouver Desi from India. “I was fearing they will turn down the extradition. I wanted to depose in the court as I was the main victim and the witness.”
In the BC extradition trial, the Crown alleged the duo orchestrated the murder because Sidhu had married Mithu, a poor rickshaw driver in India, rather than the wealthy older man they preferred.
They fought extradition, arguing there wasn’t enough evidence to force them to face charges in India.
Twenty-five-year-old Sidhu secretly married against the wishes of her family and fled from Canada to India to reunite with her husband. Mithu Sidhu survived the attack.
Mithu, who is currently unemployed and has chosen not to remarry, has had difficulty getting his life together since his wife’s brutal murder 14 years ago.
“It has been so many years since I have smiled,” he said, adding he hopes he’s closer to seeing his wife’s “killers” punished. “I am walking dead since the day they took my Jassi away from me. I am living only on the hope that she gets justice. I feel her soul is restless and wandering.”
Four men have already been convicted of murder in India.
In the Friday ruling, BC Supreme Court justice Gregory Fitch said Jassi Sidhu’s family wanted her to accept the arranged marriage.
“They were very angry about what Jassi had done and hostile to the (idea) that Jassi would seek to free herself from her family.”
The judge noted that Badesha was the family patriarch and enforced traditional gender roles in the home.
“Badesha and Sidhu resorted to violence and threats.”
The pair, who both appeared in court via video link, have been ordered to remain in custody until their extradition.
Dressed in a jail-issue green sweatsuit, Sidhu sat motionless with her hands hanging loosely in her lap.
Badesha, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit with a blue hankerchief covering his head, leaned forward as the judge recounted the facts, his face dropping out of view on the courtroom monitor.
Fitch heard evidence at a series of hearings last year and in January.
Jassi Sidhu was living in Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver, in February 2000 when her family learned of her clandestine marriage.
Friends and co-workers testified that in the months that followed, she was under watch around the clock and feared for her life.
The Crown alleged the mother and uncle embarked on a “systematic campaign of terror,” ordering Jassi Sidhu to end the marriage and restore the family’s honour.
Despite her family’s disapproval, Jassi Sidhu went to India in May 2000 with the intention of bringing her husband home to Canada.3
The couple was attacked on June 8, 2000. Her body was found several days later.
The Crown presented evidence to show there were more than 250 telephone calls between Badesha and some of the men convicted in the death, beginning immediately after the couple’s marriage came to light and peaking the day Jassi Sidhu was killed.
The court heard Jassi Sidhu was likely stabbed with a kirpan, which her husband saw in the hands of one of the assailants, and that it was probably the same blood-stained kirpan later found by police at the farm of one of the convicted men.
The Crown has said police also found a photo of the woman with her personal details written on the back.
Malkit Kaur Sidhu’s lawyer acknowledged his client was upset with the marriage, but he said that didn’t prove she conspired to have her daughter killed.
Badesha’s lawyer suggested the passage of time and widespread coverage of the crime — including a movie and a book based on her life — made witness testimony unreliable.
“It will take about another two years before all the avenues of appeals are exhausted,” said The Province newspaper’s deputy editor Fabian Dawson, who also broke the Jassi Sidhu story and helped produce three documentaries, a made for TV movie and was the lead author of the book Justice for Jassi. “But this is a critical point in this long running saga of forbidden love.”
“Jassi was betrayed by her family, abused by those she trusted and I can only hope she will not be abandoned by the justice system both here and in India.”