Born4 August 1975 (1975-08-04) Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
Jaswinder Kaur "Jassi" Sidhu (August 4, 1975 – June 8, 2000) was an Indo-Canadian beautician who was murdered in an alleged honor killing. She was kidnapped, tortured, and killed allegedly on the orders of her mother, Malkiat Kaur Sidhu, and her uncle, Surjit Singh Badesha, near the Kaonke Khosa area of Ludhiana, Punjab.
On a visit to the city of Jagraon, Ludhiana in the Punjab state of India in December 1994, Jassi met and fell in love with Sukhwinder Singh Sidhu (nicknamed Mithu), a rickshaw driver. They kept in touch over the next four years. In 1999, Jassi made another trip to India with her family. This trip was for the purpose of arranging a marriage for her. Instead, she and Sukhwinder married secretly on March 15, 1999. Her family strongly disapproved of this marriage, supposedly because he was of a lower status than she, and they attempted to persuade her to get a divorce by beating her and offering to buy her a car. When those attempts were futile, her family persuaded her to sign a form, falsely telling her that by signing, they would help Sukhwinder come to Canada. Instead, the form was filled with accusations against Sukhwinder. When Jassi discovered that she had been betrayed, she faxed a letter to Indian officials stating that the accusations in the form sent earlier were false.
Kidnapping and murder
Jassi escaped from family confinement with help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who escorted her from the residence. She obtained money from a friend to buy a plane ticket, and flew to India on May 12, 2000, to reunite with Sukhwinder. On June 8, Jassi and Sukhwinder were kidnapped by hitmen hired by her uncle. Sukhwinder was violently beaten and left to die, while Jassi was taken to an abandoned farmhouse where she was murdered. On June 9, 2000, her body, with her throat slit, was found dumped in an irrigation canal 45 km from Kaonke Khosa. The killers were in contact with her mother and uncle by phone, and it was determined by Indian Police that the order to kill Jassi was given by her mother. Her mother and uncle were arrested on January 6, 2012.
Investigation and Aftermath
Seven of the killers were tried and convicted, the result of an aggressive investigation by Inspector Swaran Singh. Attempts began to extradite Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha from Canada to India to stand trial, but the extradition became stalled through British Columbian court proceedings and Canadian extradition laws. Pressed for information, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice remarked that the file remained active. Former British Columbia Attorney General Geoff Plant, when interviewed by a NBC reporter, had little to say about the case.
Sukhwinder was accused of rape in August 2004 and was incarcerated in the Ludhiana Central Jail for four years until he was acquitted. The woman who made the accusation was connected to Jassi Sidhu's family. Harbinder Sewak, the publisher of The South Asian Post newspaper in Vancouver, BC, intervened on behalf of Mithu, hiring lawyers to fight his case and free him from jail. The newspaper was recognised for its crusading journalism through a Jack Webster Award for Best Community Reporting in 2008 for this action. After his acquittal, Sukhwinder was elected panch of Kaunke Khosa.
After a long investigation, Jassi's mother and uncle were arrested by the RCMP on January 6, 2012 – eleven years after Jassi's murder.
Extradition of Badesha and Sidhu
On May 9, 2014, following court proceedings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Justice Gregory Finch ordered Surjit Badesha and Malkit Sidhu to be turned over to Indian police to face trial. This motion effectively ended the debate regarding their extradition, which had been stalled by the pair arguing enough evidence was not present to extradite. Finch justified his decision evidence that India had presented against Badesha, including 266 phone calls between Badesha and the four men convicted of killing the late Sidhu. Justice Finch also reminded those present at the trial that "it is the Canadian court’s role to determine whether a jury could convict on the evidence, not whether they should convict."
To date, Badesha and Sidhu effectively remain in custody until their surrender to Indian authorities. Their only alternative is submitting a request for appeal to the Federal Justice Minister.
The story of Jassi and Sukhwinder is the subject of Murder Unveiled, a made-for-TV movie. A petition website, 'Justice for Jassi,' archiving her story and dedicated to obtaining justice for her has been signed by thousands of people worldwide. A book by the same name, Justice for Jassi, written by Province, from Deputy Editor Fabian Dawson and South Asian Post publisher Harbinder Sewak, was released at the end of 2011, just prior to her mother and uncle being charged. This murder case was also featured in CBC Television's The Fifth Estate.
Present at the final court proceedings of Badesha and Sidhu was Jim Longridge, the former principal of the high school Jassi Sidhu had attended in Maple Ridge. Remembering Sidhu as a quiet, friendly and studious girl, Longridge was horrified to learn of her murder and had been persistently writing to various Canadian politicians and police over the years, demanding action on her murder overseas.