THE ‘honour killing‘ of a Coventry mum has been remembered at a memorial service at the House of Commons.
The 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal was marked at the event hosted by MP Stephen Timms – which called for a public inquiry into the issue of so-called honour killings and ‘outsourced’ killings affecting British citizens.
Mum-of-two Surjit disappeared after going with her mother-in-law, Bachan Athwal, to a family wedding in India in December 1998.
Her body was never found, but her mother-in-law apparently boasted to relatives she had arranged for her to be strangled and dumped in a river – after Surjit had an affair with a colleague and said she wanted a divorce.
For years, Surjit’s death was concealed by her husband, Sukhdave Athwal, and her mother-in-law, but the pair were finally convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2007 after a tireless campaign by Surjit’s Coventry family for justice.
It was a landmark case, the first in UK legal history, of an outsourced honour killing being criminally prosecuted in the UK against people who plot a murder, while the actual killing is carried out abroad.
The people who actually carried out the murder have never been caught.
Surjit’s brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, from Coventry, still campaigns for police and politicians to do more about honour killings in the Asian community.
At Wednesday’s event, he called for the British Government to press the Indian Government to bring Surjit’s outstanding murderers in Panjab to justice, and has requested a follow-up meeting with the Foreign Secretary.
He said: “Just as we have benefited from major public enquiries following Stephen Lawrence‘s racist murder, we need to have a comprehensive public enquiry which brings out the multiple and vital lessons thrown up by outsourced honour killing cases like Surjit’s and others.
“These are publicly important issues for government action, police action and community action. Victims continue to suffer because of a lack of coherence, communication and co-ordination on these devastating cases.
“In states like India and Pakistan, there is horrifying police collusion in these vicious acts of murder.
“For example, 100 females are murdered across the Indian state on a daily basis.”
The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from women’s campaign groups, the Metropolitan Police, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, and was organised by Surjit’s daughter Pavanpreet Ahmed.
Speakers included DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation on Surjit’s case
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