Contract killings on the rise among NRIs in Punjab

February 17th, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Feb 17 (IANS) Jasbir Singh, Jaswinder Kaur, Mohan Singh… they are among an increasing list of Indians living abroad murdered by contract killers while on a visit to Punjab. Contract killings involving non-resident Indians have increased in Punjab in recent years. In most cases, fallen out marriages, illicit affairs and property disputes are the main reason why NRIs get people killed. The killings are carried out in Punjab and not in the adopted countries of these NRIs because of the lax laws here.

The money involved in each contract killing, according to police officials, is anything between Rs.1 million to Rs.5 million.

Interestingly, this trend is picking up even as the Punjab government last month announced the setting up of six police stations in the state exclusively for NRIs to deal with their problems in Punjab.

The killing of Jasbir Singh, a 25-year-old NRI from Brampton in Canada, took place on Thursday, a day before his wedding. The Punjab police have booked an NRI brother-sister duo, Gursewak Singh Gill and Amanpal Kaur Gill, for the murder.

Jasbir was waylaid near his native village of Saidoke in Moga district, 200 km from here, and sprayed with bullets by men who came in a Honda City car. His cousin, Harpreet Singh, too was killed.

Jasbir, who drove a truck-trailer in Canada, reportedly had had an affair with Amanpal in Canada but was getting married to another girl from Punjab. This had infuriated the brother-sister duo.

The police are also investigating the immigration angle to the crime after it came to light that Gursewak had married his own sister Amanpal on paper under the adopted name and passport of Inderjit Singh to help her migrate to Canada.

“No one by the name of Gursewak Singh Gill travelled to India in recent months. He must have been using a passport under another name,” Moga superintendent of police Ashok Bath said.

Canada-based NRI woman Jaswinder Kaur alias Jassi was murdered in a gruesome manner near Malerkotla town in June 2000. Her death was an ‘honour killing’ carried out by contract killers at the behest of her family members who were upset that she married a taxi driver.

On Friday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the life imprisonment for four relatives of Jaswinder Kaur.

Well-established Leicester-based textile factory owner Mohan Singh was murdered outside a dhaba, roadside eatery, near Phillaur town, 15 km from Ludhiana, in August 2006. He was killed by a contract killer, Jasbir Singh, at the behest of his own brother Sukhjivan Singh. A woman was behind the killing, police investigations revealed.

“NRIs sitting abroad think that they can get away by getting the crime committed in Punjab through contract killers. They are wrong,” Jalandhar range deputy inspector general Narinder Pal Singh said.

According to Singh, there have been around two dozen contract killings in Punjab from 2005 till the end of 2007. In most cases, it is difficult to get the NRI as they are safely ensconced in their adopted land.

The trend of contract killing is particularly prevalent in Punjab’s Doaba belt - the land between the Sutlej and Beas rivers comprising the districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr - from where the maximum number of NRIs hail.

Kuldeep Singh of Mukerian was killed in October 2005 following a land dispute with Gurdev Singh, an Indian living in the US. The NRI is said to have paid Rs.1.2 million for the contract killing.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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