Indo-Canadians use hired hitmen in homeland
Thu, February 21 2008
By Mata Press Service
Like many villages in Punjab, fame and fortune in the agricultural hamlet of Gonsgarh is closely linked to its sons and daughters who have made their homes in Canada.
Located outside the industrial metropolis of Ludhiana, Gonsgarhs affluence is plain to see.
Money from overseas has built posh homes and villas while the roads leading to the village are unlike the dusty dirt tracks in neighbouring communities.
Nearly half of the 40 households that make up Gonsgarh have kin in Canada. Land here is worth about C$75,000 an acre.
Today, however, the talk in Gonsgarh village square is not about the son or daughter who has made it big overseas.
Its about a young woman and her brother, whom the villagers knew well before they left for Canada.
The siblings are charged with the murder of a Canadian truck driver in a sensational Valentines Day assassination.
The murder is the latest in a string of contract killings of Indo-Canadians and other Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) in Punjab.
Indian police and legal experts tell the South Asian Post that the worrying trend is rising because the culprits believe that India cannot extradite them.
In many of the cases, poorly paid Indian policemen play a role in the killings or help cover-up evidence after getting paid in overseas dollars.
In most cases, broken marriages, illicit affairs and property disputes are the main reasons why NRIs are ordering people killed.
The killings are carried out in Punjab and not in the adopted countries of these NRIs because of the lax laws in India, reports .
The money involved in each contract killing, according to police officials, is anything between C$5,000 to C$125,000.
Over the last two years, there have been at least two dozen contract killings involving NRIs in Punjab.
Most of the cases occurred in Punjabs Doaba belt the land between the Sutlej and Beas rivers comprising the districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr where most of Canadas South Asians hail from.
NRIs sitting abroad think that they can get away with it by getting the crime committed in Punjab through contract killers, said Jalandhar range deputy inspector general Narinder Pal Singh.
They are wrong.
In Gosngarh, the villagers are in quandary.
Remarkably, some say the brother and sister who have been charged with murder did the right thing to maintain the village honour. Others feel that there is no place for murder in their community.
Charged in connection with the case are Amanpal Gill and her brother Gursewak Singh Gill. They live in Brampton, Ont. after having moved to Canada five years ago.
They are accused of killing truck driver Jasbir Singh, also of Brampton and his India-based cousin, Harpreet Singh.
Relating the case to the South Asian Post, Moga District Senior Superintendent of Police Ashok Bath alleged the murder was planned, by a woman scorned.
As per investigation held so far, the NRI Jasbir Singh and his cousin Harpreet Singh seem to have been killed by contract killers hired by NRI Amanpal Kaur Gill and her brother Gursewak Singh Gill, he said.
Jasbir and the brother Gursewak were friends in Brampton and had worked in the same Canadian company for some time.
Young Amanpal got to know Jasbir and the two had a close relationship.
However, Jasbir had no intention of marrying Amanpal, said family and friends.
Jasbirs brother-in-law, Rajvinder Singh, also a Canadian citizen, said even though Jasbir was having an affair with Amanpal, he had made it clear that he would not marry her.
She had threatened that if he married some other girl in India, he would never return to Canada, claimed Rajvinder.
On January 7, Jasbir left for India to get married to another woman in the village of Nihal Singhwala the bastion of the Dhaliwal clan.
Jasbirs parents had arrived a month earlier to finalise the wedding, which was to take place on Valentines Day.
The arranged wedding in Nihal Singhwala was to be held the day after another wedding in the family.
On the night of Feb 13, after the first wedding, Jasbir, his cousin Harpreet Singh and friend Manjit Singh, were returning home when a Honda City car overtook their vehicle and blocked its way.
A gunman opened fire killing Jasbir, who was driving.
Manjit Singh, who was sitting next to Jasbir in the front seat, said a clean-shaven man opened fire through the side window, killing Jasbir on the spot. Harpreet, sitting in the backseat, tried to jump out and was shot, said Manjit.
Police said Gursewak, one of the accused, was seen during the run-up to the wedding celebrations in a white Honda City with several other men in Nihal Singhwala.
We have lodged a report against both of them (Gursewak and Amanpal) on the complaint made by family members of the victims. They have alleged that Amanpal was putting pressure on Jasbir to marry her but he was not willing as he suspected her of infidelity, said police superintendent Ashok Bath.
Repeated attempts were made by the South Asian Post to contact Amanpal at her cell phone and home numbers, but she did not call back before deadline.
In statements to Indian police, the families of the victim and the accused released the following statements.
Nirmal Singh, brother of the victim Jasbir Singh said: Jasbir did not marry Amanpal as she was going around with many men. She claimed she was pregnant with Jasbirs child but what was the proof he was the father. She had sent the contract killers.
Gurmeet Kaur, mother of accused Amanpal Kaur and Gursewak Singh said: My children are innocent . . . Amanpal wanted to marry Jasbir . . . We even offered them more money for the marriage as Jasbir was marrying the other girl for a hefty dowry. My son had come to India on Jan 27 and gone back on Feb 12. How could he be the killer?
In Gonsgarh, villagers expressed shock that Amanpal Gill could be behind the murders and condemned the killings, but agreed Gills overarching grievances were just.
Nambarda Assa Singh said that while all murder should be condemned, youths who exploit a girl in the name of marrying her should be taught some lessons.
Darbara Singh, another Canada-based NRI and a resident of the village, said youths who exploit girls would face gory revenge.
I dont know if Amanpal and Gursewak killed them or not, but we villagers put the honour of the family over other things, said Darbara Singh.
Police are also investigating Gursewak for immigration fraud after he is suspecting of arranging a fake-document marriage with his sister Amanpal in order to get his immigration papers to Canada.
Jasbir Singhs murder at the hands of contract killers is the latest in a string of killings allegedly orchestrated by Non-resident Indians living in Canada and other western countries.
In many of the Canadian cases, frustrated Indian police are unable to get their hands on the suspects because of Canadas complex and snail-paced extradition process.
Jalandhar range deputy inspector general Narinder Pal Singh attributed the increasing number of contract killings to disputes involving property, dowry and marriages.
NRIs indulging in crime are also under the impression that they would not be caught while sitting abroad but it is not the case, and the police have been booking such NRIs, he said.
Punjab police have recently set up six special police stations to deal with crimes involving NRIs.
The most infamous of the Canadian cases involves Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, a British Columbia beautician who was murdered by contract killers hired by her family after she secretly married a poor man they did not approve of. Indian police have been trying since 2000 to arrest the victims mother and uncle, whom they allege were the masterminds.
Here are some of the other contract murder cases involving Canadian NRIs in India:
In November 2005, police allege that Vancouver businessman Bachan Singh Kingra was hacked to death by two hired assassins. The killers were allegedly hired by his oldest daughter, Balwinder Kaur, who was irked by her 64-year-old fathers plan to get a new bride, have a son and give him the family land over her.
In July 2007, Indian police arrested Calgary resident Jagtar Singh Mallhi, 32, who had orchestrated a fake car crash with the help of hired killers to murder his wife. He was allegedly upset that his wife would not consent to his illiterate cousin getting married to her university-educated sister.
In August 2003, Canadian doctor Asha Goel was the victim of a brutal beating death in Mumbai, India. There had been a rift among her siblings over a multi-million-dollar inheritance. Dr. Goel, 62, was chief obstetrician at the Headwaters Health Centre in Orangeville, Ontario.
In January 2008, Indian police alleged that a Surrey family hired a group of contract killers for about C$3,000 to kill Ranphool Singh of Mundiya village after he failed to come up with the promised Rs30 lakh rupees (C$76,000) dowry for his daughter.
Police arrested the contract killers while they were on their way to commit the murder.