Do we think our culture is a great culture, when we are enforcing
daughter-in-law to live like a slave under Us.
and her son found guilty of "honour killing"
Facing life sentences
UK, May 03, 2007
NRI Bachan Kaur Athwal, Mother-in-law, 70, and
son Sukhdave Singh Athwal, 43, of Willow Tree Lane, Hayes, west
London, were convicted of murder Surjit Kaur Athwal, 27, customs
officer. She was a wife of Sukhdave Singh Athwal and a mother
of two children.
A British court called the murder was a "honour
killing" and facing life sentences. Michael Worsley, QC,
for the prosecution said, " When Bachan Athwal
learnt that her daughter-in-law wanted a divorce, Bachan Athwal
called a family meeting to discuss her killing. "Family
honour was at stake,"
Michael further said, Bachan
was in a matriarchal position with all the authority that goes
with it in a tight-knit community. It was hanging over the family
- something that would be disgraceful to it.
The Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll said, "I
would like to pay tribute to the bravery of the witnesses, whose
information and co-operation with us has resulted in the outcome
today, I hope that this demonstrates that police will deal with
any witnesses that come forward sensitively and that they will
be fully supported. The family members then revealed that Bachan
Athwal had discussed "getting rid" of her daughter-in-law."
Mr Worsley said, "The other
members of the family revealed the secret. "They were frightened
that if they told anybody, the same sort of thing might happen
Sarbjit Athwal, another daughter-in-law
said, "They were going to get rid of Surjit. They
were going to take her to India and get rid of her."
The police discovered that the Heathrow airport
customs worker had intended to return, as signalled by her intent
to buy a house in London with her brother to start a new life.
Bachan Athwal and her son Sukhdave Singh Athwal
were originally arrested on conspiracy to murder on May 22,
2000 after forged documents.
Bachan Athwal, 70, who has 16 grandchildren:
- As Bachan Athwal was led away from the court, she burst into
tears and by waving her hands at the jury, screamed "liars"
- Bachan Athwal claiming that her daughter-in-law had told her
she was not returning in the UK in order to live in Delhi with
- Bachan vowed that a divorce could only take place "over
my dead body".
Sukhdave Athwal, 43, Husband
- Sukhdave forged letters purporting to be from the Metropolitan
Police and designed to throw Indian counterparts off the scent.
- Sukhdave Athwal had taken out a £100,000 life insurance
policy on his wife the day she left for India in 1998. In 2004
her name was fraudulently removed from property deeds to the
Micky Singh, of the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association,
added: "The outcome of the trial sends out a clear message
to those that hide behind Sikhism to justify their horrendous
Surjit Athwal's family said, a guilty verdict
has brought the struggle and pain of nine years to a positive
Bachan Athwal, 70 and her son were then rearrested
in November 2005 with their charges amended to murder.
They will be sentenced in September.
The Ministry of Justice announced on Thursday that new powers
on forced marriages had received Royal Assent. Under the Forced
Marriage (Civil Protection) Act, courts can make orders to remove
a victim from a situation where a forced marriage has or is
about to take place
mother of two murdered by mother-in-law's brother in India
UK, May 03, 2007
NRI, Surjit Kaur Athwal, 27, traveled to India on Dec. 03, 1998
along with mother-in law Bachan, 70, to attend family marriage
but within a few days of arriving in the Punjab she completely
disappeared from the surface of the Earth.
Surjit was murdered by her mother-in-law and husband after disgracing
her Indian family by having an affair with fellow customs officer
Harry Grewal and she also announced she wanted a divorce, the
Old Bailey heard. The pair, both from Hayes in West London-deny
murder and conspiracy to murder.
"The Crown suggests she was strangled in India."
Mr Worsley said a family member had testified that Bachan had
returned to England and "said that was what happened".
She said Bachan's brother Darshan had strangled Surjit, he added.
The brother, who lives in a rural area of the Punjab, has never
been charged, added the prosecutor.
Mr Worsley said the two accused began a cover-up soon after
Surjit's brother reported her disappearance.
They wrote to Scotland Yard and the Indian authorities, trying
to get the investigation into her disappearance called off.
Sukhdave even forged letters from British police to their Indian
counterparts, trying to suggest Surjit was at risk from her own
father, to throw them off the scent, it was alleged.
The two accused also allegedly forged documents to remove Surjit's
claim to a share of the family home. But it was years before the
police had enough evidence to charge the pair with murder.
Mr Worsley said: "This matter came to light as late as
it did because some members of the family who knew the truth of
what had happened, were frightened.
"They were frightened that if they told anybody, the same
sort of thing might happen to them as they believed happened to
Her husband, a minibus driver at Heathrow, quickly remarried,
and is alleged to have forged Surjit's signature to seize ownership
of their house.
Surjit had two daughters, one was seven, the other just a few
months old when Surjit went missing. She was working as customs
officer at Heathrow.
In 2000 Mr Athwal, his mother and two other relatives were arrested
and questioned about the case but subsequently released without
The case continues.
Courtesy: Brother of Surjit,
Jagdeesh Singh, UK
· 3rd December 1998: Surjit's leaves (with mother-in-law)
on two week visit to Panjab, from Heathrow Airport (London). Due
to return on 18th December 1998.
· 18th December 1998: Mother-in-law returns without Surjit.
Dhillon family in Coventry immediately begin inquiries with all
British airports and many airlines to find out about Surjit. No
· 19th December 1998: Surjit's brother, Jagdeesh Singh,
goes to the in-law family in Hayes, west London; to talk to them
about Surjit's puzzling and worrying 'disappearance'.
· 20th December 1998: Dhillon family contacts Bob Ainsworth
MP to seek assistance. He communicates information to British
Foreign Office, London.
· 21st December 1998: Jagdeesh Singh (brother) contacts
Metropolitan Police about Surjit's mysterious and suspicious disappearance.
Metropolitan Police inquiries follow.
· February 1999: Surjit's husband divorces from Surjit,
telling the courts she has 'deserted'.
· March 1999: Surjit's father goes to Panjab (India) to
press for police inquiry into Surjit's disappearance. Contentious
and limited Indian police investigation ensues. Father makes two
further visits to Panjab to push Indian police investigation.
Indian police prosecute 2 suspects, but results in acquittals.
· May 2000 : Metropolitan Police arrest mother-in-law
and husband on 'suspicion of conspiracy to murder'. Subject to
24 hour questioning, and released without charge. Metropolitan
Police issue a £10,000 reward for information.
· August 2000: Dhillon family meet with British Foreign
Office representatives to discuss case, and urge positive action
by British Foreign Minister.
· September 2000: British High Commission (New Delhi)
writes letter of concern on 'lack of progress' in Indian police
investigation, to Ministry of External Affairs (India). Metropolitan
Police sends two officers to Panjab to investigate.
· January 2001 : Dhillon family members meet with Barones
Patricia Scotland (Junior Foreign Office Minister) to discuss
case. Dhillon family raise ongoing concerns about British government's
lack of action and double-standards approach on Surjit's case.
· December 2002: 3,000 National public petition handed
into 10 Downing Street, urging British Prime Minister to give
Surjit's case serious and equal attention. Public candle-light
vigil held outside 10 Downing Street, marking 4th anniversary
of Surjit's disappearance.
· January 2003: British High Commission (New Delhi) writes
letter to Ministry of External Affairs (India), asking for an
investigation into Surjit's case by the Central Bureau of Investigation
· April 2003: Surjit's brother's wife (Paramjeet Kaur)
goes on fact-finding mission to Panjab. Visits the village where
Surjit was last seen alive. Distributes leaflets to local residents
about £10,000 reward for information.
· May 2003: BBC documentary broadcast on Surjit's case.
· June 2003: John McDonnell MP (Hayes & Harlington)
initiates parliamentary motion calling for Jack Straw's direct
intervention. Motion signed by 36 MPs over coming months.
· July 2003: Jagdeesh Singh (brother) meets with Baroness
Symons (Junior Foreign Office Minister) to discuss case. Jagdeesh
urges positive intervention by British government and stresses
need for senior ministerial action by British Foreign Minister.
Reiterates long running call for meeting with Jack Straw, Senior
British Foreign Minister.
· September 2003: Jack Straw agrees to meet with Dhillon
family to discuss Surjit's case.
· 6th November 2003: Jack Straw meets with Jagdeesh Singh
and others. Jack Straw makes committment to pursue Surjit's case
hereon at senior Ministerial level, and communicate directly with
Indian Prime Minsiter and Indian Foreign Minister on the case.
He will seek investigation through Central Bureau of Investigation
The grandmother and her son had conspired to kill
the 27-year-old after she "disgraced" them by having an
affair with another man after difficulties in her marriage to Sukhdave
Surjit Kaur Athwal, 27, customs officer, a mother
of two, was lured to India on the pretext of attending family weddings.
Once there, she was allegedly strangled.
She, a vivacious, westernised woman was just 16
when she met Sukhdave Singh Athwal on their wedding day in 1988.
Husband Sukhdave Athwal, 43