Courtesy Mithu Singh
By correspondent

This report airs Dateline Saturday, Sept. 2, 8 p.m.

Deb Devos: She said she saw him in the crowd, she said their eyes met and she fell in love and it was love at first sight.

That first glance was all it took. Jassi and Mithuwere still just teenagers when they both gazed across that crowded room and came to the realization they were made for one another.

Devos: She just was drawn to him and wanted to be with him, but said that her family wouldn’t approve of it.

What began so innocently, became a battle of wills, pitting one generation against another—modern values against a centuries-old culture. Soon, it would be headline news on two continents and lead to one overriding question: is someone getting away with murder?

Belinda, Jassi's friend: She was very sweet. Her eyes, sparkle when she talked to you, almost like teary you know?

Nicole: She was a beautiful girl, just lovely.

Her friends knew her as “Jassi,” a nickname reflecting her Indian heritage. Though she had been born and raised in Canada, Jassi’s family clung passionately to many of the customs and traditions of the Sikh religion practiced in their homeland. In many ways, Jassi grew up to be as naive as she was beautiful.

Devos: Maybe it was her innocence, maybe it was her romance, there was something about her that was wonderful. She was a vision, I mean you would see her and she would take your breath away.

Jassi was brought up in a thriving Sikh community just outside Vancouver, on Canada’s pacific coast. More Sikhs live there than anywhere else but India. And like so many other families, Jassi’s arrived with dreams of farming and making a comfortable living as owners of a large blueberry farm.

Video: Forbidden love

According to Jassi’s former teacher, Deb Devos, Jassi’s uncle Surgit Badesha was the family patriarch who ensured her upbringing was a strict one.

Devos: She did tell us that everybody was required to work, whether it be on the blueberry farm or outside the farm—that the uncle controlled the money, that if you got a pay check, it went to the uncle.

Though she was in her mid-20s, like many other single Sikh women, Jassi still lived at home. In her case, it was at a sprawling family compound. Her mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, different generations, everyone lived there together. And in this traditional Sikh family, it was expected that Jassi would continue to live there until the day she got married.

Vijay Singhera, Sikh woman living in Vancouver: I think it’s a bigger difference for women, for girls, because we are not allowed to date as much.

38-year-old Vijay Singhera was also raised in Vancouver. The older of two daughters, Vijay and her sister still sing many of the Sikh hymns so important to their faith. Though Vijay and Jassi never met, they shared the challenge of growing up in the west but living in a home tightly-bound by the age-old traditions of the east.

Singhera: There are more restrictions on girls, to be a “good Indian girl.” You know, if I wanted to stay out late, you have a curfew. “Good girls” don’t stay up past this time.

Bob McKeown, correspondent: Did you put up an argument?  Did you say, “Well, the other kids are doing it?”

Singhera: You start asking questions and many a times, they don’t have the answers, and just say, “This is what happens. This is tradition.”

And in Sikh tradition, daughters are family treasures— prized and protected, and are expected to remain pure in both deed and thought.

Deb Devos met Jassi when she was 19 years old, and a new student at the beauty school Devos owns.

Jassi was finally discovering the world outside the sheltered Sikh community with new friends, a career beyond the boundaries of the family farm, and an education that encompassed more than styling hair and applying makeup. 

McKeown: And literally you had to explain biology to her?

Devos: Uh… Pretty much. (Laughs) Yeah, she didn’t understand uh… what happened between a man and woman.

Both Jassi and Vijay grew up expecting they would have arranged marriages in which their families would play the role of matchmaker.

Singhera: In our families, it’s the parents who are the chiefs. And what they say you listen to, and if you don’t, then you’re disobeying them.

So Jassi’s mother and Uncle Surjit began the search for a suitable husband. Jassi shared her misgivings about that with her friends.

Nicole, Jassi's friend: I think it was probably hard for her, being Canadian, being in public schools, and things seeing a lot of girls falling in love, and having boyfriends, and being with someone for love versus being with someone because your family thinks this is the person you should be with. 

But as close as Jassi was to her family — living all together in their compound in Canada — she kept a secret from them. One that she revealed only to those she trusted most: Jassi had already met someone, that young man with whom she’d fallen in love at first sight, and she wanted to marry him, no matter what her family thought.

Nicole: She was overjoyed and in love with him, it was just beautiful. We all thought, “We’re never going to settle down or be with anybody until we have love like those two did.” Because it was amazing.

Life is not easy in northern India. Sukwinder Singh, known by his nickname "Mithu," spent his whole life there. And it was in northern India, in 1995, that he first met Jassi who was visiting with her family. It was a chance meeting that would alter the course of both their lives.

Mithu Singh: I liked her very much and I was certain right then that I wouldn’t be able to live without her.

For Mithu, just 18 at the time, the dream of marriage to 19-year-old Jassi and a life together in north America would have been like winning-the-lottery. In their hearts, it may have been a match made-in-heaven. But in the minds of Jassi’s family it was a union that defied everything they believed in.

Mithu: I had no idea that her family would be so opposed to our being together, I had absolutely no idea that all this would happen to us.

But in a traditional Sikh family, that opposition was completely understandable. Jassi was well-educated from an affluent home in Canada and Mithu made a meager living, as a rickshaw driver in India.

Vijay Singhera, Sikh living in Vancouver: They would look upon it as, “Why would you wanna do that?”

Bob McKeown, correspondent: He was really “Mister Wrong” in a number of ways, wasn’t he? He was below her economically.

Singhera: Uh huh…

McKeown: He was not someone her mother and uncle had even met, let alone, approved of.

Singhera: If he had a good job, the parents would look at it and say, “Okay, she’s in love with somebody who in the future will give something to my daughter.”

McKeown: Uh… hmm…

Singhera: He didn’t have much to offer.

When Jassi returned to Canada after they first met, letters from Mithu followed. Not to her home, but to Deb Devos’ beauty school.

McKeown: She made it clear that she couldn’t keep these letters at home?

Deb Devos, Jassi's former teacher: No, she couldn’t because they would find out the relationship between her and this young man… the consequences would be too great.

That relationship, like those letters, would continue for the next few years, until Mithu and Jassi were in their mid-20s. Despite the 7,000 miles between them, though they came from two separate worlds, those differences only seemed to draw them closer together.

In 1999, they made plans to marry, though Jassi surely knew it was not the arranged marriage her family had in mind.

Devos: They had brought her several different prospects. I guess the uncle was getting quite impatient because, of course, she was saying, “No” to all of them. And then finally he made an arrangement for this man that was in his 60s that was going to marry Jassi. And Jassi was adamant that she wouldn’t marry him.

Torn between the pressure from her family to marry and the desire to lead a life of her own, Jassi came up with a plan.  She convinced her mother to bring her to India, in fact, to the state called the Punjab where her mom had grown up. She explained it might help her in choosing a husband, but there’s something else she didn’t tell her mother.

McKeown: So was that just a scheme on her part.

McKeown: To delay the arranged marriage here, and to get back to India to see him?

Nicole: To see him, to be with him and then I guess to decide to be married.

McKeown: And that’s when they were actually married in secret.

Nicole: Right.

In March 2000, Jassi and Mithu managed to slip away and secretly marry in local a Sikh temple. The only witnesses were two friends.

Their honeymoon was a few days together in the Punjabi countryside, before she had to return to Canada. For the time being, at least, the clandestine marriage had to remain a secret.

And with good reason. She was now on a collision course with hundreds of years of tradition—modern versus ancient; young versus old, east versus west. In a community where tradition is so important, her family was more conservative than most. By marrying Mithu, she had dishonored them.

Singhera: The women are the honor, because she is the one who goes to the other family... So, you’re always carrying somebody’s honor.

And Vijay Singherra should know. When she was Jassi’s age, she married the man her parents chose for her. They divorced two years later.

McKeown: What would have happened in the family if you had met and fallen in love with somebody, your parents didn’t approve of for whatever reason?

Singhera: What they worry about is what people are gonna say about you. And they’re gonna say, “Well, she wasn’t under her parent’s control.” And that puts dishonor on the parent’s role.

Back in Canada, Jassi told her friends that’s exactly why she had to keep her family from finding out about her marriage to Mithu.

Nicole: They’d write letters to each other and secret phone calls and things and nobody was allowed to know; her family couldn’t find out because she knew it was wrong. She knew it was very wrong.

But her letters to Mithu reveal that the girl who’d never had a date, let alone a boyfriend ... wasn’t about to give up the first man she’d ever loved.

“...I can’t wait till we’re together ... I miss you very much. I keep on thinking about the days I spent with you ... I cannot take you out of my mind for even a second.”

Jassi began making arrangements for Mithu to join her in Canada. She was also sending him money. That is, until relatives back in India discovered their secret, and told Jassi’s family.

A secret discovered
When word reached the compound that Jassi had been married, her family was furious. Their response was sudden and severe. They put her under house arrest. Unable to see or even talk to her friends, she was effectively cut off from the rest of the world, while her mother and uncle decided what they’d do next.

For Jassi, life inside the family compound went from bad to worse.

Belinda, friend: Her whole family was in the living room and they were all yelling at her, pointing their finger at her, telling her why she shouldn’t do this and she’s ruining her life.

McKeown:  And what did they want her to do?

Belinda: They offered her money, they just said, “Divorce him, leave him, just forget about him.”

But Jassi refused to give in. Though she knew how strongly her family felt, somehow she convinced herself her that marriage to Mithu could still have a happy ending, if only she could find a way to get him to Canada.

Tamara, friend: I said that they could stay at my place until they get a little apartment somewhere.

McKeown: Yeah, they were gonna live happily ever after?

Tamara: They were gonna just live happily ever after and they would be in Canada and everything would be fine. And yes, Jassi knew that her family would disown her, but in time they would come to see the light and eventually accept the two of them.

So could love conquer all? It seemed like a naive notion, but in fact, Jassi’s uncle did seem to undergo a dramatic change-of-heart. According to her friends, he indicated he would help Mithu emigrate to Canada.

He had her sign papers— a notarized statement written in Punjabi, a language she couldn’t read or write, and with that document in hand, her uncle Surgit left for India, promising, friends say, everything would be fine.

It was the spring of 2000. Jassi, the young Sikh woman from Canada had secretly married her true love in India, though she knew her family wouldn’t approve.

It seemed they’d had a change of heart. Her uncle had gone to India and led Jassi to believe he would bring Mithu back to Canada so the couple could be together. But that wasn’t his plan at all. In fact, Jassi’s uncle Surgit went looking for Mithu and took along his Indian relatives.

Mithu Singh, Jassi's husband: These people came to my house when I was gone and threatened my mother and my brother and asked them to get me to agree to divorce Jassi, otherwise they would kill my whole family.

When that didn’t work, Surgit took matters into his own hands.

Apparently furious that Mithu had ignored his threats, Jassi’s uncle decided to do something about it. He came to court in Punjab and he charged Mithu with kidnapping Jassi and forcing her to marry him.  And remember that notarized statement that the uncle had Jassi sign? The one in Punjabi that she couldn’t read? Well, that’s what he gave to the court as proof.

It says, in part, that “...Jassi didn’t love Mithu. That the wedding took place at gun point, and that she wants the marriage dissolved.”

It essentially accuses Mithu of kidnapping Jassi and consummating the marriage by rape.

That’s all the local police needed to issue a warrant for Mithu’s arrest. Now, he was not only an unwanted son-in-law, he was also a wanted man.

Mithu: I went into hiding and in my absence they picked up my two friends who were witnesses to my marriage with Jassi. And these boys were tortured.

Back in Canada, despite being closely watched, Jassi was finally able to contact Mithu. She learned that despite her uncle’s promises, he had really gone to India to force Mithu and his family to end the marriage one way or the other.

Belinda, friend: They took his mother into the prison, and beat his mother.

Tamara: Mithu was freaking out on the other end, I mean, he was like, “Get over here. My family, my friends are being threatened, I’m being threatened, you gotta get over here.”

But to escape, Jassi would need help from her friends. One of them called local police, who then came to the compound. Though Jassi knew it could put her life in danger, that’s when she made her move.

Bob McKeown, Dateline correspondent: The police arrived; she grabbed her stuff and went with them?

Tamara, Jassi's friend: Yeah. That’s when the family started making things really bad for her.

McKeown: Did she tell you there were threats?

Belinda, Jassi's friend: Yes, before she left to go to India, her uncle threatened, he said, “If you go to India, I will kill you.” And I remember her telling me that quite specifically.

It was all happening so fast. Just two months after her secret wedding to Mithu, Jassi borrowed from friends and bought a plane ticket and returned to India.

And she took along her own sworn statement, this one to prove to authorities her marriage was genuine and her uncle had lied. In it, she detailed the threats to which she and Mithu had been subjected. It reads, in part:

“My family does not agree with my marriage ... and are trying to force me to have it annulled ... I fear for the safety of myself and [Mithu] on a daily basis.”

In May 2000, Indian authorities finally dropped the charges against Mithu. Now he and Jassi were together at last, staying with his mother.

Mithu: I did kind of feel safe after that and once Jassi was with me and it became public knowledge that we were a couple and that we were married. I really did not feel they would do anything.

McKeown: So, at that point were you thinking about your marriage, having children, growing old together?

Mithu: Yeah, we were living together and we were thinking about the future at that point in time. I was very relaxed.

And there were even occasional phone calls to Canada, rekindling the hope that a reconciliation with her family might still be possible. Mithu recalls the last time they spoke to Jassi’s mother.

Mithu: She first berated me for having taken away her daughter and marrying her. She thought that what we had done was wrong. But then she also said, “Okay, it’s fine now that you’re married, everything is okay.”

The fateful day
The date was the 8th of June. Jassi and Mithu had come shopping at a marketplace in a nearby town. When they were finished, they got back on Mithu’s motorbike and started towards home.

Mithu:  We were coming back leisurely on the scooter, talking to each other. I really didn’t have any suspicion of anything being wrong on the road.

Mithu: Two people suddenly appeared, and they attacked us with a hockey stick and a sword.

McKeown: Where did the sword and the club strike you?

Mithu: Most of my injuries were on my head. Those were the really bad ones. But they chopped off part of my hand.  I have an injury on my neck. There is a big cut on the side of my torso. One of them came and actually felt for my pulse. And he couldn’t find it, so he told the others, “Yeah, he’s done for. Let’s go.” Then they got into the car and sped away and after that I lost consciousness, I don’t remember anything after that.

By now, Jassi almost certainly believed that Mithu was dead. The attackers had left him lying motionless by the roadside as they forced her into their car, then brought her here to this farmhouse about 40 miles away.

30 minutes later, the beautiful young woman from Canada was dead. Jassi’s body was dumped by the road. She’d been beaten and stabbed, her throat slashed. She was just 24 years old.

Jassi wouldn’t be found until the next morning. It wasn’t long before investigators would learn about the attack on Mithu and his missing wife. Soon, the body in the ditch was identified as Jassi’s. Her death made headlines back home.

McKeown: So, you literally found out by picking up the morning newspaper?

Devos: Yes.

McKeown: What went through your mind that moment?

Devos: 'No, it’s not true! No.'

Almost immediately, suspicion fell on her family, though Jassi’s uncle Surgit wasted no time accusing Mithu’s family of the murder. He charged it was part of an elaborate plan to get control of Jassi’s money.

Meanwhile, Mithu lay in an Indian hospital fighting for his life.

Could the family that so prized Jassi’s life, also have taken it?  Could they believe the slaying of a rebellious daughter would somehow restore the honor they thought they had lost?

Inspector Sarwan Singh was the lead detective assigned to investigate the brutal attack of Jassi and her husband Mithu. One of the senior police officers in the Punjab, he’s seen enough murders to make an educated guess about the kind of weapon used in this one.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: Three injuries were caused by the traditional Sikh sword which we refer to as the Kirpan.

In Sikh culture, the sword—or kirpan—is usually worn as a religious symbol. Though violence is frowned upon in this faith, the kirpan has historically been the weapon used to defend it and the moral values it stands for.

Inspector Singh took us to the property room where weapons and other evidence are stored.

Among the items they recovered from the crime scene, according to the inspector, was the sword which was used to kill Jassi.

Though he now had the sword that used in the attack, in order to track down the killers and build a case against them, he would first need to uncover their motive.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: I discovered that a case had already been filed against Mithu alleging that Mithu had forced Jassi into a marriage. That’s when we discovered their love affair and the secret marriage.

And that’s when he also discovered the notarized statement that Jassi submitted as proof her uncle had lied to Indian authorities about her marriage to Mithu.

That provided Inspector Singh with solid evidence that their lives had previously been threatened by Jassi’s uncle Sugit and focused his search on her extended family in India.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: After sustained questioning, [one of the relatives in India] gave us the names of the killers and the kidnappers that he had hired and that’s how we got to the others.

Inspector Singh told us that during questioning the conspirators admitted they’d been promised $50,000 by Jassi’s uncle and mother—a fortune in the Punjab—to kill Mithu and kidnap Jassi.

But for Inspector Singh, it was what happened inside the farmhouse on the night of June 8th that was the final piece of the puzzle.

Killer's confessions
He says that according to the confessions he extracted, Jassi was dragged up to a room where she was put on a cellular phone.

For five years she’d been caught between two worlds, that night they collided. Ancient tradition and modern values; family honor and romantic love; and now the sword and the cellphone...

At the other end of the line, in Canada, was her uncle Surgit.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: And he told the girl, “Look, we have been trying to tell you that, you have to leave this boy and you have to come back to Canada. And you have not listened and now you will bear the consequences.”

Then, the inspector says, Jassi spoke to her mother from the family compound. Jassi begged for forgiveness but it was too late for that. The kidnappers got their final instructions from her uncle.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: Surjit Singh finally told the killers on the mobile phone that the girl should be murdered and the body thrown away. Because if she was allowed to stay alive she would eventually indict the whole lot of them.

In the end, 13 people were charged with murder: the men accused of planning and carrying out the attack against Jassi and Mithu in India, and Jassi’s mother and her uncle in Canada, who allegedly paid them to do it.

Indian police told us most confessed during questioning, though all subsequently pleaded not guilty.

But Inspector Singh was convinced of their complicity because of evidence.

Inspector Sarwan Singh: We recovered two mobile phones from the accused and have been able to establish all the pattern of calls to the residential telephones of Jassi’s family, calls made from these telephones to Canada.

Inspector Singh showed us records of the calls made from the kidnapper’s cell phones in India. Among them, calls placed on the same date and at the approximate time that Jassi was murdered to the telephone that Indian police confirmed is located at the home of Jassi’s uncle Surgit. It was more evidence her family in Canada was instrumental in her death.

McKeown: Will you tell them we’re from American television? We’d like to know about the involvement of Jassi’s family in Canada.

When we first reported this story four years ago, all of those charged with Jassi’s murder in india were in custody. We caught up with them as they arrived for a hearing.

Back then, police in India were confident those believed to be involved in Canada would also be brought to justice, and with good reason it seemed: Under Canadian law, conspiring to have someone murdered, wherever the killing takes place, is viewed as the same as committing the murder.

Which is why Inspector Singh expected that Jassi’s uncle and mother would soon be arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Tamara, friend: They didn’t even, they didn’t care.

In fact, after Jassi was killed some of her friends told us they went to the police to tell them about threats made by Jassi’s uncle and mother. They insist, the RCMP asked only a very few, general questions and that was it.

Tamara: Like I’m thinking they’re gonna question me and y’know, maybe sit down with me, and find out my details. Nothing, not even a “pfft.” I was in and out of there in two minutes.

It seems that despite that evidence in India pointing to a conspiracy to commit murder, back in Canada, the call for justice was going unanswered.

When we first visited RCMP headquarters in Vancouver in 2002, the Mounties refused to discuss the Indian evidence or to tell us if they were even looking into the case.

RCMP spokesman Grant Learned: We would never confirm or deny any investigations that we could or could not have.

McKeown: The record showing that phone call between the family home and the cell phone belonging to the people who’ve confessed to that murder, on the night of the murder; what does commonsense tell you about that, is there any other explanation?

Sgt. Learned: There could be a variety of explanations but again…

McKeown: Offer, offer one.

Sgt. Learned: But that’s a hypothetical.

McKeown: Completely hypothetically, give me a possible explanation other than the call had to do with the murder.

Sgt. Learned: But again you are asking me to make a statement on a case, that’s  before the courts in another country, be absolutely irresponsible of me to do so.

When we first reported this story we found Jassi’s mother still going about her daily routine.

McKeown, trying to talk to Jassi’s mother: I’d very much like to talk to you about the murder of your daughter. Mr. Badesha,  could we ask you some questions about Jassi’s murder?

And Jassi’s uncle Surgit, was also a free man.

Despite repeated requests for an interview, neither Jassi’s mother nor her uncle would talk about the circumstances of her death.

McKeown, trying to talk to Jassi’s uncle Surgit:  The Indian government has told us they have irrefutable proof that you planned and paid for the murder of Jassi. How do you answer that?

So why hadn’t Canadian authorities taken any action against Jassi’s family in Canada? From the perspective of Inspector Singh, there was ample proof against them, in particular the numerous confessions obtained by the police.

Inspector Singh: To my mind this is at least a whole lot of evidence that no police, or no authority anywhere in the world can really deny or dismiss as false or questionable.

But that’s exactly what Canadian authorities were doing. Questioning those confessions because of how Indian police may have elicited them.

Sgt. Learned: There would have to be a complete outline of how such confessions were obtained under what conditions, etcetera. They may not meet the test of Canadian jurisprudence.

It is no secret that Indian police interrogation often includes the use of physical force. In fact, it’s so prevalent that confessions obtained during police questions are inadmissible as evidence in Indian courts. So it makes sense that evidence likely would not be accepted in the Canadian justice system. But what infuriated Jassi’s friends, was that Canadian authorities seemed to be doing nothing to build a case of their own.

McKeown: In the past two years, since her murder, have the police asked to speak to you? 

McKeown: Have even called to ask what...

Belinda: You’re the first person that’s actually talked to us in detail about this.

McKeown: No one has come to you asking what she felt, what she though, what she feared?

Nicole: No.

Devos: You can’t use Canada as a hiding ground to hire people to kill people in other countries and get away with it.

And that’s where we left this story: in Canada, the wheels of justice turning oh so slowly. In India, Jassi’s heartbroken husband, Mithu, under guard 24-hours-a-day to stave off any other attempts at revenge against him. 

Though life was difficult for Mithu, he did find comfort in the knowledge that the men charged with killing Jassi were awaiting trial behind bars.

It’s been almost four years since we told you the story of the young canadian, Jassi Sidhu, murdered in India after marrying a man of whom her family didn’t approve.

Then, last year, we learned that Jassi’s husband, Mithu, had been jailed under suspicious circumstances. So we decided to return to India to find out for ourselves what had happened to him and to those accused of killing his wife.

This time we found Mithu as he was escorted from a prison bus. He’s been incarcerated for almost 2 years now, awaiting trial for what he and many others insist is a totally false charge of rape. The accusation was made by a woman who turned out to be the servant of the man accused of masterminding Jassi’s murder. Mithu claims, it’s just another act of revenge by those who killed his wife.

Bob McKeown, Dateline correspondent: There’s no question in your mind, Mithu, that money changed hands here...

Mithu Singh, Jassi's groom: Not only me but my whole village where I live that knows I have been framed by use of money.

Even those in the Indian legal system acknowledge that justice here can be corrupted by money. And remember it wouldn’t be the first time Mithu was the target of false criminal accusations.

Jassi’s uncle who previously had him charged with a trumped-up case of kidnapping and rape when he first learned of their secret marriage.

Inspector Singh: There’s a general feeling that since they’ve done it in the past against Mithu, that they have been involved in implicating Mithu in this case this too.

Incredibly, when we returned to India, Mithu was stuck behind bars, while his wife’s murder case had dragged on so long that Indian authorities ordered most of the defendants free on bail.

With the glacial pace of Indian justice, you might assume the investigation back in Canada - and the case against Jassi’s uncle and her mother - would be moving more quickly. Not necessarily.

McKeown: Did you expect that sooner than later they would knock on your door and ask what you knew?

Deb Devos, Jassi's former teacher: Yes I did.

McKeown: And did that happen?

Devos:  It didn’t happen until the story broke in Dateline. I went to the Police Station, I gave my statement. They videotaped it apparently, and that’s the last I heard of it.

Perhaps that’s because there are still legitimate concerns about Indian police procedures and evidence, including the frequent use of torture and possible contamination of that evidence.

Remember that four years ago, when we first reported this story, Indian police said they not only had confessions, but showed us Indian cellphone records documenting calls made by the alleged killers in India, to the phones at Jassi’s family compound back in Canada.

Will cellphone records from North America help?
But, Dateline recently obtained more cellphone records. They’re Canadian records from Bell Canada that detail calls made from and received at the compound at the time of the murder. They provide an undeniable link between Jassi’s family in Canada and the accused killers in India.

If Canadian authorities wouldn’t accept what they considered to be tainted evidence from India, surely phone records from Bell Canada would confirm Inspector Singh’s claim that Jassi’s mother and uncle were complicit in her murder.

In just over a month, 147 phone calls were dialed from the telephone belonging to Jassi’s uncle Surgit, at family compound in Maple Ridge British Columbia, to the cellphones belonging to the men charged with Jassi’s murder, in India.

The list of calls included 40 calls to the man alleged to have been the masterminding the plot; and 5 to the man believed to have slit her throat. And 10 of those calls were made from Surjit’s phone on June 8, the day Jassi died—at or near the time of the murder.

We went back to the RCMP to ask why the Mounties have been so slow to act despite this compelling new Canadian evidence.

McKeown: 50 phone calls,  including phone calls on the night of the murder from that house in Maple Ridge. It would seem that for some reason, somehow the RCMP has been reluctant to become involved in this case?

Sgt. Worth: Sir, all I can tell you is that our investigation is on-going.

In the five years since Jassi was murdered, it was at least the first acknowledgment the Canadian police are finally investigating her case.

In British Columbia, the Canadian province where Jassi’s family lives, the administration of criminal justice is the job of the attorney general.

Wally Opal, B.C. attorney general: If there’s going to be confidence in the criminal justice system, then matters have to be investigated and prosecuted, if necessary, in a timely manner.

But Wally Opal, British Columbia’s current Attorney General explains that in Canada, prosecutors can’t tell the police how to do their job.

McKeown: There are phone records showing 147 calls between the cellphones of the alleged killers in India and the house in Maple Ridge...

Opal: Unlike the American system where the district attorneys get involved in the investigative stage and very often go with the police to the crime scenes, we don’t do that in this country.

A chaotic scene on the grounds of the principle courthouse in the Punjab’s largest city, may help to explain the painfully slow progress of Indian justice. Lawyers conferring outside with clients, preparing their cases much as they would have a century ago.

Last October, an antiquated Indian justice system finally prosecuted those accused of killing Jassi Sidhu.

The verdict? Seven of the defendants were convicted of murder. All of them sentenced to life in prison.

As for Jassi’s uncle and mother, though they were also charged by Indian authorities as conspirators in her death, they’ve remained in Canada and have not appeared in an Indian court. Never tried in absentia, they remain fugitives from Indian justice, but still living free in Canada.

Which is where we found her uncle, Surgit Badesha, last year.

Bob McKeown, Dateline correspondent: Mister Badesha, can I have a word with you sir?

For a moment it seemed possible he was finally ready to talk.

McKeown: My name is Bob McKeown. We’ve been following the story of the murder of your niece for five years now. It’s been more than five years. And, as you know, you have been charged with conspiracy to kill her in India.

We have records showing 147 phone calls between the phones of the accused killers in India and your phone in Canada, your home in Canada. Can you give us any plausible explanation?

Surgit Badesha, Jassi's uncle: I don’t know anything..

McKeown: Well, you know something, you made those calls or received them.

Badesha: I am sorry, I don’t know anything.

Despite all Jassi told her friends, the convictions in India and the records from Surgit’s home telephone, there are still no charges in Canada and no indication the RCMP has even questioned Jassi’s uncle or mother.

As for Jassi’s husband Mithu, he’s still sitting in a jail cell, fighting to clear himself of the rape charge that he insists is just the latest attempt to shut him up.

McKeown: Is there any question in your mind that you being in prison now, has to do with your marriage to Jassi?

Mithu: No, there’s no doubt.

He’s lost his wife and now his freedom. But after all that, his most cherished possession remains the wedding ring that Jassi gave him.

McKeown: Given all that’s happened, do you sometimes wish that you never laid eyes on her?

“No”, he told me, in answer to that question, “...never.”

Though Jassi’s death has been tragic for Mithu in so many ways, for her family back in Canada, it appears their life has hardly changed.

McKeown: Just one last question, Mister Badesha? When she died, no one from your family went to claim her body. If, if as you say you had nothing to do with this, why did you just leave her there thousands of miles from home?

It was just one of many questions that Jassi’s uncle refuses to answer.

Jassi’s remains were claimed by Mithu’s mother. And in keeping with tradition, she was cremated.

Though the flames of a funeral pyre consumed her body, Jassi’s memory burns on, in the hearts of friends who are still determined to find justice for the young woman who died for the man she loved.

Nicole, Jassi's friend: It made us feel comforted that at least for this little bit of time that she had with him, she was doing what she wanted, and she was just just doing it for her, and for him, and not for anyone else.

The so-called "honor killings" of young women and girls are not that uncommon in India, Pakistan and the Middle East. The United Nations estimates that, worldwide, there are about 5,000 such killings each year.


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