Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu

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Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu
Born (1975-08-04)4 August 1975
Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
Died 8 June 2000(2000-06-08) (aged 24)
Ludhiana, Punjab, India

Jaswinder Kaur "Jassi" Sidhu (August 4, 1975 – June 8, 2000) was an Indo-Canadian beautician who was murdered in an alleged honour killing. She was kidnapped, tortured, and killed allegedly on the orders of her mother, Malkiat Kaur Sidhu, and her uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, near the Kaonke Khosa area of Ludhiana, Punjab.[1]

Background[edit]

On a visit to the city of Jagraon, Ludhiana in the Punjab state of India in December 1994,[1] Jassi met and fell in love with Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu (nicknamed Mithu). They kept in touch over the next four years. In 1999, Jassi made another trip to India with her family, the purpose of which was arranging a marriage for her. Instead, she and Sukhwinder met once again and married secretly on March 15, 1999. Her family strongly disapproved of this marriage and they attempted to persuade her to get a divorce, by first offering to buy her a car and material possessions, and then by beating her.[1] After those attempts were failed, her family pressured her into signing documentation, falsely telling her that it was legal paperwork which would help Sukhwinder come to Canada. Instead, the document contained criminal accusations against Sukhwinder. When Jassi discovered this, she contacted Indian officials, stating that the accusations were false and she was coerced into signing.

After this, her family forcefully took her back to Canada, where she was held under confinement in the family home.

Kidnapping and murder[edit]

Jassi escaped from family confinement with the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who escorted her from the residence. She obtained money from a friend to buy a plane ticket, and flew to India on May 12, 2000, to reunite with Sukhwinder. On June 8, Jassi and Sukhwinder were kidnapped by hitmen hired by her uncle. Sukhwinder was violently beaten and left to die, while Jassi was taken to an abandoned farmhouse, where she was subsequently murdered. On June 9, 2000, her body was found dumped in an irrigation canal 45 km from Kaonke Khosa, her throat had been slit.[2] An investigation by the Indian Police showed that the killers were in contact with her mother and uncle by phone, and it was determined that the order to kill Jassi was given by her mother.[1] Her mother and uncle were arrested on January 6, 2012.

Investigation and Aftermath[edit]

The local hitmen involved in the killing were arrested, tried and convicted, the result of an aggressive investigation by Inspector Swaran Singh. Attempts were made to extradite Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha from Canada to India to stand trial, but the process was stalled owing to British Columbian court proceedings and Canadian extradition laws.[3] When pressed for information at the time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice stated that the file remained active and extradition was still being considered.

Sukhwinder was accused of rape in August 2004 and incarcerated in the Ludhiana Central Jail for four years, until he was acquitted. The woman who made the false accusation was found to have connections to Jassi Sidhu's family. Harbinder Sewak, the publisher of The South Asian Post newspaper in Vancouver, BC, intervened on behalf of Sukhwinder, hiring a legal team for him. The newspaper was recognised for its crusading journalism through a Jack Webster Award for Best Community Reporting in 2008 for this action.[4] After his acquittal, Sukhwinder was elected panch of Kaunke Khosa.

After a decade-long investigation, Jassi's mother and uncle were arrested by the RCMP on January 6, 2012 – eleven years after Jassi's murder.[5]

Extradition of Badesha and Sidhu[edit]

On May 9, 2014, following court proceedings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Justice Gregory Finch ordered Surjit Badesha and Malkit Sidhu to be turned over to Indian police to face trial. This motion effectively ended the debate regarding their extradition, which had been stalled by the pair arguing that enough evidence was not present to extradite. Finch justified his decision by showing evidence that India had presented against Badesha, including 266 telephone calls between Badesha and the four men convicted of killing Jassi. Justice Finch also reminded those present at the trial that "it is the Canadian court’s role to determine whether a jury could convict based on the evidence, not whether they should convict." [6]

To date, Badesha and Sidhu effectively remain in custody until their surrender to Indian authorities.[6]

Coverage[edit]

The story of Jassi and Sukhwinder is the subject of Murder Unveiled, a made-for-TV movie. A petition website, 'Justice for Jassi,' archiving her story and dedicated to obtaining justice for her has been signed by thousands of people worldwide. A book by the same name, Justice for Jassi, written by Province, from Deputy Editor Fabian Dawson and South Asian Post publisher Harbinder Sewak, was released at the end of 2011, just before her mother and uncle were charged. This murder case was also featured in CBC Television's The Fifth Estate.

Present at the final court proceedings of Badesha and Sidhu was Jim Longridge, the former principal of the high school Jassi Sidhu had attended in Maple Ridge. Remembering Sidhu as a quiet, friendly and studious girl, Longridge was horrified to learn of her murder and had been persistently writing to various Canadian politicians and police over the years, demanding action on her murder overseas. [6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d DeNeen L. Brown; Rama Lakshmi (October 5, 2003). "Mom gave long-distance order for honor killing, police say". Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ ""Forbidden Love" Triggers Outrage". South Asian Post. January 25, 2008. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ "India waits as RCMP probe plods on". Vancouver Province. March 7, 2007. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The 2008 Jack Webster Awards Winners". The Jack Webster Foundation. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ Lazaruk, Susan (January 8, 2012). "Mother, uncle arrested for Jassi Sidhu slaying". The Province. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c Moore, Dene (May 9, 2014). "Pair who disapproved of B.C. woman's marriage to face trial in India for her murder". The Glove and Mail. Vancouver. 

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