Published on BBCnews, by Poonam Taneja, 28 September 2009.
A BBC investigation has uncovered the deadly practice of British Asians travelling to India to hire contract killers. Family and business associates, who are lured to the sub-continent, are often the targets. In a country, where murder is cheaper and less fraught with risk, the perpetrators of these crimes are rarely brought to justice. Campaigners in both India and the UK believe this to have claimed the lives of hundreds of victims over several years. These armchair murder plots are hatched in the living rooms of Britain and executed mainly in the rural Indian state of Punjab.
I made the journey to India to investigate these sinister crimes. In a remote village, surrounded by lush green fields, a rickety ox-drawn cart trundles along the dusty lane. It is here that a British woman, who was on holiday with her husband visiting relatives, was killed – the apparent victim of a hit-and-run accident. But her relatives in India suspect foul play. “Her husband wanted to re-marry.
He told her to leave him – she said, ‘I’ll die but I won’t let him go’,” her mother revealed. She was one of the first to arrive on the scene. “They beat her up. They dumped her in the ditch and made it look like an accident. They wanted to show it like an accident. There was no blood, no car and no tyre marks” …
But in the manicured grounds of his colonial-style villa in Punjab’s capital, Chandigarh, inspector general of police for Jalandhar district Sanjiv Kalra says the figures are exaggerated and denies his force is riddled with corruption. “From my experience, these kinds of things are more talked about than they are actually present on the ground,” he said. However, for many victims’ families the search for justice in India is elusive. They are now turning to the authorities in the UK for help. British detectives are increasingly being called in to solve these murders. Commander Steve Allen of the Metropolitan Police Service has this stark warning. “We have increased our knowledge of and our confidence in dealing with murders of British citizens overseas. We will follow you, we will pursue the evidence and we will bring you to justice wherever in the world you commit these offences.” Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office says it is currently aware of six British nationals who have gone missing in the Delhi and Punjab area. (full text).