Finally Justice for Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 16:10 pm DST, 01 June 2014

Update: More than 10 years after a young Maple Ridge woman’s ruthless so-called honour killing, her husband is desperately waiting in India for the day justice is served — if it ever comes. Jassi Sidhu, 25, was found slain in a canal in India in June 2000 while she was visiting the country in an attempt to bring her husband, Sukhwinder (Mithu) Sidhu home to Canada.

Indian authorities allege Sidhu was the victim of an honour killing 13 years ago planned in Canada by her mother Malkit Sidhu and uncle Surjit Badesha, because they disapproved of her rickshaw-driver husband. The accused pair were arrested in Canada in January 2014."  (Source: Vancouver Desi)

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled this week that they will be extradited to India to be tried on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.

Published Originally: 4 August 2010

"From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all." ~ Guru Nanak, 15th Century Founder of Sikhism

Western media has effectively demonized Islam through the promotion of stereotypes, some of which have a basis in fact, many of which do not. One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that 'honor killing' is a religious construct rooted in Islam; when in fact, it is a cultural dynamic based upon the assignation of women as chattel. Within this construct no part of a woman is under her control, particularly her reproductive ability, since it is through this mechanism that she can bring life into the world.

Women have been dominated throughout time by various systems of societal and religious controls. In the end, women and men are different yet complementary; unfortunately, many man-made systems require the subjugation of a segment of their societies in order to achieve mental equilibrium that would or should otherwise be derived from personal growth and psychological introspection leading to adjustment and improvement.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender.  A Sikh (English pronunciation: /ˈsiːk/ or /ˈsɪk/; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖ, sikkh [ˈsɪkkʰ]) is a follower of Sikhism. Sikhism (Sikhi in Punjabi) primarily originated in 15th century Punjab region of India and now constitutes one of the major religions with adherents throughout the world. Source: Wikipedia

Sikhism, is unique because it is a religious system incepted in the 15th Century and yet it is one of the earliest systems to promote, if not equality, at least the value of women.  But like all man-made systems or creeds, it is also susceptible to the benevolent or malevolent application of its tenets by individual interpreters and adherents.

Thus was the case ten years ago when a young Sikh woman named Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu who lived in Maple Ridge, British Columbia  (B.C.) was murdered at the behest of her mother and uncle. The brother and sister pair, prominent members of the Nanaksar sect of Sikhism in the Metro Vancouver area, are proclaimed offenders under Indian law.

Jassi, like so many women who are victims of 'honor killings', was murdered because she rejected an arranged marriage and against her family's wishes married a 34-year-old, poor auto-rickshaw driver named Sukhwinder 'Mithu' Singh.  What makes this Shakespearean tragedy of forbidden love and murder even more heinous is the fact that Jaswinder or Jassi as she was called, was a Canadian citizen.

Watch original story at Inside Dateline: Still no justice for a murdered bride

Initially, upon learning of Jassi's unsanctioned marriage, her mother and uncle confined her to the house in veritable isolation. Then, just as abruptly they indicated that they would no longer oppose the marriage. It was then that her uncle deceived Jassi into signing a notarized document written in Sanskrit, a language she could neither read nor write. Her uncle told her that he would go to India to arrange for Mithu's immigration to British Columbia, instead he presented the fraudulent document to the Indian authorities as proof that Jassi's marriage to Mithu had been consummated by force through rape.

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Published: 1 June 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Upon learning of this deception, Jassi made the bold decision to return to India to be reunited with her husband.  Her uncle threatened her with certain death if she continued to defy them, however, in the Spring of 2000 she returned to India to be with Mithu.  For three months they lived together as husband and wife in his mother's home, then one evening as they rode their moped from the market they were accosted by several men in a car.

The men ran them off of the road and then attacked Mithu with swords leaving him for dead as they shoved Jassi into the waiting car.  She was driven to a remote farm house where she was viciously beaten before they cut her throat and dumped her body into a rural roadside ditch.  Mithu languished in a coma for several weeks and was heartbroken to learn upon his return to consciousness that Jassi had been slain.

This case is a rare instance where a non-Western judicial system exacts judgment and sentencing of the culpable party but the judgment is not honored by the citizen's country of origin.  Indian police have petitioned to have the B.C. government extradite Jassi's mother and uncle to stand trial for her murder.

They allege that nearly $50,000 was paid to family members to carry out the brutal slaying which they orchestrated via phone from Canada.  Through phone records, they were able to demonstrate that in fact, Jassi spoke with her mother and uncle, possibly pleading for her life minutes before she was murdered. To date only four men, who were her extended family members, have been convicted of murder.

Harbinder Singh Sewak, the publisher of the Asian Pacific Post, which won a prestigious Jack Webster journalism Award for the paper’s crusade to help Mithu, is now preparing to release a book on Jassi’s murder.  Sewak set up a website called to bring international awareness to the case.  Thousands of people across the world have expressed their feelings and outrage on Justice for Jassi. Below is a sampling of some of the reaction from across Canada that have been logged on Mr. Sewak's website:

Don’t let wealth, community standing, or cultural differences stand in the way of doing what’s right. Justice for Jassi is still alive, and waiting to be served. - R. Hirschkorn, Vernon, B.C

I am deeply ashamed of the RCMP and of at least two successive Canadian federal governments. I pray that Mithu and Jassi’s spirit can one day receive justice and can one day forgive us. – Joel Tatelman, Toronto, Canada

Jassi was a Canadian citizen, but it appears that in the eyes of Canadian justice she was and is a second class citizen. Had this been a Caucasian woman, justice would have been delivered swiftly. – Arshdeep Badesha , Hamilton, Ontario

All she wanted was to live and love. Is that a crime? I think not! – Palig, Montreal

As always, I encourage you to take action and sign the petition at Justice for Jassi. Of course silence is an option, but is it moral?

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