Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Love's Sacrifice

"Jassi secretly married. She did so contrary to the wishes of her family, who wanted her to accept an arranged marriage."
"Jassi was in love with Mithu, excited about spending her life with him and planning to bring him to Canada. Jassi feared for her life and Mithu's life, was worried that something was going to be done to them and did not know what they were capable of."
"Badesha threatened to kill Jassi if she returned to India. Despite the emotional pressures, threats and physical abuse to which she was subjected, Jassi continued to defy her family's wishes and returned to India to preserve her marriage and bring Mithu to Canada to live with her."
"Badesha and Sidhu resorted to violence and threats of violence."
Justice Gregory Finch, British Columbia Supreme Court, Canada

"I couldn't believe she's been murdered and apparently nothing was going to be done about it. These two people -- her mother and uncle -- were walking around Maple Ridge as though they weren't involved. It wasn't right."
Jim Longridge, former principal, Maple Ridge high school
B.C. judge orders mother, uncle extradited to India in 'honour killing'            On June 8, 2000, Jassi Sidhu and Mithu Singh Sidhu were attacked in India by a group of men, with Mithu being badly beaten and Jassi abducted. Her body was found the next day, her throat slit.  Photograph by: Submitted , for the TIMES

And because Mr. Longridge became so consumed with his certainty that a former pupil of the high school he was part of -- a young woman whom he recalled as quiet, friendly and studious, without being aware of the strains and stresses imposed upon her by a cultural background of class and caste -- was murdered in the 'restoration of family honour', and no one seemed to know or to care, and justice called out, he acted.

He wrote letters to politicians and to the police, demanding that Canada take action over a murder that had taken place overseas. The murderers were there, living at peace in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, as though nothing untoward had taken place. Yet Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha, sister and brother, one the mother of the murdered young woman, the other her uncle, were known to have exacted punishment on a daughter and niece who refused to obey her family's demands.

That punishment extended far beyond the violence she was submitted to when, at one point she was hemmed in by eight to ten members of her family consisting of aunts, cousins, mother and uncle -- who struck and beat her for her refusal to abandon a young man whom she had married in India on March 15, 1999 against their wishes. She was to have travelled to India for the express purpose of marrying someone she had no knowledge of, who had been chosen by her family.

The young woman's body was found, her throat slit, dead in a ditch. Seven men had been dispatched to kill her and her husband, a poor rickshaw driver. Four were convicted of her murder. Jassi Sidhu's husband Mithu Singh Sidhu survived the attack, and lost his wife. Police in India investigated the attack and came to the conclusion that her mother and her maternal uncle had ordered her death as punishment that would restore the family honour by relieving the young woman of her beloved husband, through her death and his.

A neighbour of the family testified that the young woman had been threatened and assaulted, locked away, passport withdrawn, locked out of her bank account. Police traced 266 telephone calls that took place between the Badesha family and the four men who were eventually convicted of the murder in India of Jassi Sidhu. Jassi's mother and uncle insisted there was insufficient evidence to prove they had any connection to her murder.
  • BC Judge orders extradition of Mother and Uncle in 'honour killing'In a judgement released by a BC Supreme Court judge Friday, the mother and uncle accused of ordering the honour killing of Jaswinder Sidhu (Jassi) have been ordered extradited to India.
The young woman's love for the man whom her relatives spurned, preferring that she marry an elderly businessman they had chosen for her, was not a spur-of-the-moment event in the 25-year-old's life. On an earlier trip to India with her family in 1994 she met had him, and in the years that followed they corresponded. Five years later she travelled back to India and they married.

When her mother discovered the marriage certificate late in 1999 she threatened her daughter, making it clear the marriage would never be accepted by the family, and that she had shamed them, a high-caste Indian woman marrying a low-caste man with no future, sullying the family reputation. Jassi showed up at work covered in bruises, informing her co-workers of the threats she was facing and her fear for her husband in India.

She went to the RCMP detachment in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, to report the threats she was under, and the violence she had suffered in her family, by her family, and her fears. She was escorted by police to her home to enable her to put together some personal belongings, and then spent the night at the home of a friend. The RCMP contacted their counterparts in India. And then she flew to India to be with her husband.

There she was abducted as she rode on a scooter with her husband. Mithu was beaten and Jassi was taken away by seven armed men. A day later she was found dead.

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