The Delta family of a 32-year-old mother shot to death during a trip to India is hailing a life-sentence handed to her husband in Hoshiarpur, India.
In March 2009 police in India announced the arrest of Vancouver truck driver Manjit Singh Badyal, on suspicion of hiring contract killers to murder his wife, Kuldeep Kaur Badyal. The couple had been in India for several months, when the wife was shot in the chest at close range as she was going to visit a Sikh temple in the northeast Punjab. She died on the spot.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the heinous murder of our beloved sister, daughter, and niece Kuldeep,” Kuldeep’s brother Amandeep Bal said at the time. “She was a devoted wife and loving mother of two young children.”
In an interview Saturday, the victim’s uncle Gurmeet Bahia of Delta told The Province the family has been informed by officials in Hoshiarpur that last week session court judge JS Bhinder sentenced Badyal to life in prison.
Court details have not yet been logged on the district’s online legal database. Sentencing documents are being mailed to interested parties in Canada, the family says.
“We are very happy with the life sentence,” Gurmeet Bahia said. “She won’t be coming back, but he was punished for what he did.”
The victim’s cousin, Ravinder Bahia, said that police told the family an alleged conspiracy involved Badyal’s plan to profit from a life insurance policy on his wife, and return to Vancouver to marry a mistress.
“He had put a life insurance policy (reported to be $400,000) on her one week before leaving for India in January (2009),” Ravinder Bahia said.
Following Badyal’s arrest in 2009, Indian newspapers reported on a growing trend of contract killings involving Indo-Canadians from the Punjab.
The Vancouver-based South Asian Post reported at least two dozen contract hits involving Indian migrants had occurred since 2007, mostly in Punjab’s Doaba belt where many Indo-Canadians come from.
Quoting Indian investigators, the paper reported that culprits believe they can get away with crimes arranged in India for several reasons. Poor Indian policemen often are paid to cover up evidence or even play a role in hits, according to the South Asian Post. And extraditing suspects from Canada to face justice in India is an extremely difficult process.
Gurpreet Singh, a Vancouver-based Radio India commentator, applauded reports of the Badyal sentence and recent developments in the Jassi Sidhu case.
In 2000 Sidhu, a 25-year-old Maple Ridge beautician, was murdered in Punjab after she went against her family’s wishes and secretly married a poor Indian man. Ever since police in India have been trying to extradite her mother and uncle, alleged conspirators in her slaying.
“Some people come to Canada and get rich, and then they think they have the right to hire contract killers in India,” Singh said. “That is what happened in Jassi’s case. They hired people that were working for the police.”
In January, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, 63, and Surjit Singh Badesha, 67, both of Maple Ridge, were arrested under the extradition act based on a request by India. The pair were recently denied bail in B.C. Supreme Court, pending an extradition
“Now that we’ve seen some movements in these cases, this might send a strong message,” Singh said.
Singh said in context, contract killings are rare in the South Asian community. But the root problem of marital discord and spousal abuse is far too common.
“Community leaders have to sit down and find out why some of these cases go so far,” Singh said. “We are still living in that primitive age, those old time customs.”