British Columbia

Widower of B.C. woman slain in India lives in fear

The widower of Jassi Sidhu, whose mother and uncle have been arrested in connection with her slaying, still fears for his own life, according to the co-author of a book about the case.

Jassi Sidhu's mother, uncle arrested under Extradition Act

Developments in Sidhu case

10 years ago
CBC's Bob McKeown looks at recent developments surrounding the death of Jassi Sidhu, a Canadian woman killed in India in 2000, after her mother and uncle were arrested in connection with the killing 3:23

The widower of Jassi Sidhu, whose mother and uncle have been arrested in connection with her slaying, still fears for his own life, according to the co-author of a book about the case.

Sidhu, 25, a Canadian citizen and resident of the Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge, was killed in Punjab, India, in 2000. Her husband, Mithu Sidhu, was seriously injured in the same attack.

On Friday, police announced her mother Malkit Kaur Sidhu, 63, and uncle Surjit Singh Badesha, 67, had been arrested in Maple Ridge.

Fabian Dawson, who co-authored Justice for Jassi, told CBC News he spoke with Mithu Sidhu shortly after the arrests were announced.

Sidhu was glad to hear the news, according to Dawson, but still lives in fear.

"[He's] overwhelmed with what has transpired and he's hoping this will be the beginning of a process that will bring some justice for his Jassi. He has lived through quite a bit," Dawson said.

"After the murder and the attack on him ... [someone] tried to kill him several times to silence him because he was the principal witness, so he still lives in fear and he still lives in danger."

'A family disgrace'

Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha were taken into custody after the B.C. Supreme Court issued arrest warrants under the Extradition Act and are being held pending an extradition hearing.

Jassi Sidhu and her husband, Mithu Sidhu, were attacked in June 2000 in Punjab, India. (CBC)

Dawson said Mithu Sidhu is willing to travel from India to Canada to testify against them and hopes the extradition will be successful.

"He's very much at risk and plus he has his reservations about the [Indian] justice system, which has taken so long to come to this stage," Dawson said.

Jassi Sidhu was allegedly kidnapped, tortured and killed after marrying Mithu Sidhu, a poor rickshaw driver, against her family's wishes.

Speaking to CBC's The Fifth Estate, which followed the story for several years, Jassi Sidhu's cousin Bitty Litt said the woman's mother was quite clear about the family's intentions.

"She was saying all along that that's a family disgrace, that she's defaming the family name, they weren't going to let her be married to a guy like that and let her bring him out here to Canada; they were going to put a stop to it," Litt said.

"She kept saying that they're pretty powerful people in India and that, if they wanted to, they can get anything done in India."

'It's going to be a long process'

Harbinder Sewak, who co-wrote the book with Dawson and is the publisher of the South Asian Post, said the killing was motivated by wealth.

Malkit Kaur Sidhu, 63, the mother of victim Jassi Sidhu, was arrested Friday in the Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge. (CBC)

"I think there's a lot of money issue in it," he said.

"[Jassi Sidhu's] parents own lots of property in the village, she's going to marry a poor guy and once he's married to her he's entitled to the land too, so you want to marry somebody up higher if not equal [in] wealth status ... he's a poor guy and that was what the whole issue was. If he was another rich guy, I don't think Jassi would be dead today."

Sewak, however, worries the evidence gathered in India might not stand to the Canadian justice system during the extradition process.

"There may be some issues in how they collected the evidence and I know RCMP was involved in trying to help them put the case together," he said.

"But it'll be a challenge and I think it's a challenge because ... India is corrupt judicially and has ways of getting evidence that is not to our standard ... I believe it's going to be a long process."

Dawson told the Canadian Press the extradition case could take up to 10 years if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Four other people have already been convicted in India of murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Jassi Sidhu's slaying and the attempted murder of Mithu Sidhu.