18 years after her murder, Jassi Sidhu's family lose extradition appeal to India to face trial
by Barfi Culture Team
13th December 2018
Credit: Family photos
18 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 Canadian desis.

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

This week, Jassi Sidhu's mother and uncle, Malkit Sidhu and Surjit Badesha, lost their appeal to avoid extradition to India after a lengthy court battle.

Last year they were ordered to be deported to face trial but a last-minute appeal to keep them Canada was allowed. That appeal has now been rejected.

"This is a close case but we conclude the balance favours denying the stay," the court decision read, noting they were "charged with the most serious crimes," according to the CBC.

But they still have time to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.

The background to the case

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.

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.

Then 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 later found dead. A full timeline is here.

"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 last year.

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

The court case

Indian police initially 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.

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.
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