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JUSTICE: After 17 years the family of Canadian woman Jassi Sidhu will go on trial for her horrific murder
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 8th September 2017

17 years ago, Jassi Sidhu's body was found dumped near a canal in a village in Punjab, India, with her throat slit open.

The gruesome murder of the 25 year-old from British Columbia shocked the desi community in Canada.

But it was doubly shocking when Indian police alleged she was murdered by her parents for marrying a lower-caste rickshaw driver instead of a man they had picked.

Now the story is back in the headlines.

On Friday the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, the victim's mother and uncle, should be extradited to India to face trial.

The case had been stuck in Canadian courts for years because Sidhu and Badesha argued they could face neglect or mistreatment in India's prison system.

They also argued they faced the death penalty in India, which was against their human rights.

But on Friday the Supreme Court unanimously ruled they were convinced by assurances from the Indian government that the two would not be mistreated.

"The alleged crime for which India was seeking Mr. Badesha's and Ms. Sidhu's extradition was extremely serious, and in the minister's view, it was important that Canada comply with its treaty obligations to India so that India could see justice done on its territory," the judgment read.


Family photos

The background


"I have been following this case since I was a teenager, and it has continued on throughout my entire adult life," anthropologist and academic Kamal Arora told Barfi Culture after the Supreme Court decision.

"It is a terrible injustice to her memory and to women everywhere dealing with domestic violence and assault," she added.

Jassi Sidhu was born in Canada to parents of Punjabi, Indian origins.

At the age of 19 she travelled to India with her parents and fell in love with Sukhwinder (Mithu) Singh Sidhu, a rickshaw driver. They kept in touch by writing letters to each other.

Five years later, in 1999 she went back to India and secretly married Mithu Singh without telling anyone. Around the same time her parents were arranging her marriage to a wealthy 60-year-old Indian businessman.

That's when it all fell apart. Within months, Mithu Singh was kidnapped and badly beaten while in Punjab. Jassi told Canadian police she was being threatened by her family.

In May 2000 she travelled to India, fearing for Mithu's life. A month later they were attacked by a group of armed men and Jassi was kidnapped.

She was then found dead. A full timeline is here.

The court case


Indian police intitially arrested Mithu Singh for the murder, but he was later acquitted.

In 2005 the Indian police made an extradition request to Canada for Jassi Sidhu's mother and uncle.

It took until 2012 for the Canadian police to arrest Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha and they have been in custody since.

"Sidhu's death exemplifies the need for procedural reforms for cases involving violence against women, including cases where the crime may have been committed or organized on foreign soil," Kamal Arora added.

The government of India, Canada and even Britain have been criticised repeatedly for dragging their heels over so-called 'honour killings' in India by foreign nationals.

In 2015, British citizen Seeta Kaur was allegedly murdered in India in a family dispute. Her family say that justice has been hard to get because she was a British national on Indian soil.

The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada takes us one step closer to justice for Jassi Sidhu's murder. But this saga is by no means finished yet.

Video report by CBC News


UPDATE: The two family members were later able to delay their extradition.


Feature published on 8th September 2017 in the Crime section




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