Sunday, June 10, 2001

The Province • News

A13

SPECIAL REPORT
‘The mother talked to the girl [on a cellphone] and they talked for a few minutes … Jaswinder gave the phone to the killers’ … ‘The order to kill came from Canada … so they slit her throat’
— Indian police
“One of the men with a hockey stick hit Jassi, who was sitting behind me, and she fell down from the scooter.” Nearby, in another car, five other assailants armed with sharpened hockey sticks and swords were waiting. They joined the attack. “I left the scooter and tried to give her a hand to get up but suddenly they attacked me … I got injured … They wounded my head and they kidnapped her. “I was unconscious there … After 30 or 40 minutes I woke up … I felt she was callNick Procaylo — The Province ing me for help … When I got up there was nothing.” Surjit Singh Badesha is leader of Jassi’s Thinking Mithu was dead, the assailants Maple Ridge clan, said to be ‘distraught’ bundled Jassi into a car and drove her to at the allegations against them. an abandoned farmhouse outside the industrial city of Ludhiana. vehicles used in the incident. Investigators say Jassi was told to forget From a hiding place, rogue officer Joginwhat had happened and return home to der Singh wrote to a Punjab newspaper Canada. She refused. denying his involvement. She was bound to a chair and told that Last February he gave himself up, was her husband had been killed. The leader demoted and joined the other suspects of the gang wrapped his shirt around her at a maximum-security jail in Sangrur, neck and steadily tightened it as he tried which houses some of India’s most nototo force her to comply. rious criminals. Police say the leader of the contract Indian police allege that before he gave killers used a cellphone to call Jassi’s fam- himself up he was behind two attempts ily in Maple Ridge. to kill or injure witnesses in what they have In documents filed with the Indian court, termed the “Jassi case.” Sangrur police Senior Supt. Jatinder Aulakh In one incident, potential witnesses were alleges: “The mother talked to the girl and allegedly hit by a truck. In the other, two they talked for a few minutes … Jaswinder gunmen opened fire at Mithu’s house. He gave the phone to the killers.” was not at home. Police allege: “The order to kill came from Although a year has passed, tensions surCanada … so they slit her throat.” rounding Jassi’s murder have not lessened Jassi’s body was found the next day in in her family’s village of Khosa. Some insist a ditch about a kilometre away from the she should never have disobeyed her parabandoned farmhouse. ents. Others feel she should have been Those who saw Mithu after he was taken allowed to marry the man she loved. to the Christian Medical Centre in LudhiLast week, two groups representing these ana said they could not believe he survived different views clashed in Ludhiana. Police the attack. The swords had cut deep into arrested seven people, including a key withis head, back and hands. ness in the murder probe, who told police As Mithu lay at death’s door, his family he is receiving threats to change his stateand friends cremated Jassi’s body. ments about what happened to Jassi. Almost a month later, his mother finalIn B.C., Jassi’s family is refusing to talk ly broke the news to Mithu in hospital: Jassi about the incident. Their lawyer, Narinder was dead. Kang, said the family is distraught at the allegations made against them and the commentary in the media. “We have not received anything specific “We have nothing to do with the murder … It’s all lies,” said Surjit Singh Badesha or general from the Department of Justice,” after The Province broke the story of Jassi’s Kang said of the process that is now under death last year. He admitted the family way in India to extradite Jassi’s mother and opposed the marriage on cultural grounds uncle to face charges in India. The request but denied allegations he was a principal by Punjabi police is now with the Indian Home Affairs Ministry. in the conspiracy. Irene Arseneau of the Department of JusAs relatives and friends gathered to grieve Jassi at the family’s Maple Ridge tice in Ottawa said it could take up to two home, Punjab police from Jagroan and San- years to decide on such a request. “It does not matter how long it takes … grur were busy exchanging notes and trackThose responsible should pay,” says a ing suspects. Within weeks they had several suspects, friend of Jassi’s, who asked not to be including 10 members of the Narike gang named. “She would have been the proudest and happiest girl if only she was left and another of Jassi’s uncles. They seized the cellphones, weapons and alone to marry the man she loved.”

Jassi won the respect of Senior Supt. Jaskaran Singh of the Jagroan police. ‘After talking with her I was really convinced … She was a bold and beautiful girl,’ he said.

Some of the suspects in the investigation into the murder of Jassi and attempted murder of Mithu, photographed in the prison at Sangrur.
say used the gang to force farmers to sell their land for a pittance. The landowner’s main go-between was a rogue police officer — Insp. Joginder Singh. In court documents, police allege that a relative of Jassi’s contacted Joginder Singh, who set up a meeting with the gang leader. The order was to kill Mithu and get Jassi back to Canada. The fee was five lakh rupees (about $18,000 Cdn). An initial payment of four lakh rupees was made. But the crooks, realizing they had wealthy paymasters, decided to milk the conspirators, demanding expenses for entertainment, rental cars and cellphones. After several weeks, they said they could not find Jassi or Mithu. A relative of Jassi’s, according to Indian police, gave more money to the gang, insisting that the job be done properly. a cool respite from the scorching sun. It was that kind of day on June 8, 2000. Jassi and Mithu were staying at his uncle’s home. Recalls Mithu: “On June 8, Jassi’s mother phoned her early in the morning … She had traced us to where we were staying … Jassi told her we were going to stay at the place for another two to three days.” Mithu said he had earlier spoken to Jassi’s mother, who told him, “You have defamed us socially by marrying our daughter…” That night Jassi and Mithu went to the nearby town of Malerkotla, Punjab’s only predominantly Muslim area, to do some shopping and have dinner. “We were coming back home on our scooter … On the way, I saw one car was parked on the side of the road and two persons were coming toward me … Our scooter was very slow … Suddenly the two men attacked me,” said Mithu.

The aftermath

The murder
In Narike, dusk brings a golden hue and