VANCOUVER: The British Columbia Supreme Court here on Tuesday heard more details about the treatment of honour killing victim Jassi Sidhu by her mother and uncle when they came to know about her secret marriage to a low-caste rickshaw driver in India during her previous visit there.
Jassi, who grew up in Maple Ridge near here, was murdered in Punjab in June 2000 when she flew there to bring to Canada the man Mithu she had secretly married during her previous visit to India. Police in Punjab concluded that it was a case of honour killing as Jassi’s murder was plotted by her mother and uncle sitting in Canada.
Her mother Malkit Kaur Sidhu and uncle Surjit Singh Badesha now face extradition to India. They were arrested last year after 11 years of investigations by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
At the extradition hearing on Tuesday, Tamara Lamirande, who worked with 25-year-old Jassi at a beauty salon in Coquitlam on the outskirts of Vancouver, testified that Jassi was subjected to physical abuse by her family once they came to know of her secret marriage.
She told the court that one day when Jassi came with bruises, she asked her, “Why do you have bruises, and she said: My aunts hit me.’’
Tamara said when she asked Jassi why she was being hit by her aunts, she said “she was being threatened and being hit and that was when I became more aware of how serious this was becoming.’’
Tamara told the court that before her family came to know of her secret marriage to Mithu in India, she would show the photos of their secret marriage and love letters to her colleagues.
But once her family came to know of this secret, Tamara said Jassi became “nervous and worried… scared’’ as she feared that her uncle – who was the virtual boss of their household in Maple Ridge – was capable of harming her.
Tamara told the court that once her family knew of her secret marriage, someone from the family would accompany her to and from her workplace.
Continuing her narration of Jassi’s ordeal, Tamara said that things came to a head when Jassi received a call from Mithu in India to tell her that he had been beaten up and that he and his family faced constant threat.
“Jassi knew that the uncle had arranged people to go after Mithu and his family to scare him off, so that this marriage would break up,’’ Tamara said.
Having heard the bad news from Mithu and decided to go to India immediately, Jassi sought police help to pick up her belongings from her parents’ home.
Tamara told the court that a police officer accompanied Jassi to her Maple Ridge family home to pick up her belongings. After this, Jassi called Tamara to ask her whether she can stay with her for a few days.
Tamara said when she went to pick her up from an underground parking lot , “I saw Jassi with the constable and she had two garbage bags and I believe a suitcase that she had quickly thrown together when she was with the constable at her house.’’
During her week-long stay her, Tamara said Jassi told her that “it was different in India. You could pay somebody $200 Canadian and they would kill someone because they were so poor.’’
Next week, Jassi flew to India to reunite with Mithu. But the couple were attacked by hired killers when they were going on a scooter to Mithu’s village near Sangrur in Punjab on June 8, 2000. While Mithu survived with serious injuries, Jassi was kidnapped and strangulated to death.
The investigations by police in Punjab said that the gunmen were hired by Jassi’s mother and uncle in Maple Ridge. Seven men were convicted for the killing.