M A I N   N E W S

Special to the tribune
She asked for divorce, was butchered
Shyam Bhatia in London

London’s Punjabi community is in a state of shock after the sensational opening of a trial in which a 32-year-old man is accused of orchestrating the killing of his 28-year-old wife and the mother of their two children.

Geeta Aulakh, whose family originate from Goraya near Jalandhar, had her right hand cut off and died from wounds to her arm and head only yards away from where her two young sons were being cared for by a childminder. Her husband Harpreet, whose family hails from Kapurthala district, is alleged to have commissioned her murder for £5,000 (Rs 3.5 lakh) because she dared to ask him for a divorce. The Aulakhs had a love marriage and lived near Southall, West London, home to many gurdwaras and considered the heartland of the British Asian community.

Harpreet Aulakh, of Chestnut Close, Greenford, 19-year-old Sher Singh from Wren Avenue, Southall, 20-year-old Harpreet Singh from Elmwood Road, Slough and 30-year-old Jaswinder Dhillon of High Road, Ilford, all deny murder.

Claims of the how the murder was organised, and how Aulakh allegedly offered £5,000 to anyone who could carry out the crime, have come from the testimony of the prosecuting lawyer Aftab Jafferjee, QC.

The jury at London’s famous Old Bailey court has also been shown security camera footage of Aulakh buying a machette, allegedly using in the killing.

Mr Jafferjee told the court last Monday (yesterday) “On a November evening last year Geeta Aulakh, having finished work, was on her way to the home of a childminder in Greenford where two young sons were waiting for their mother to collect them.”

Jafferjee explained how the two boys, aged eight and nine at that time, were waiting for their mother to collect them. “She never got to collect them. Just yards from that address her killers lay in wait.

'They knew exactly where to wait and when to be there. There were three of them, albeit only one would and did hack her to death.

“So savage and determined was this mission to kill her, that when she sought to protect her head with her hands, her right hand was completely severed from her arm.”

According to the prosecution, the murder plot was hatched because Geeta wanted a divorce from her husband and this was unacceptable to him.”

'”No one else in the world could possibly have wished this utterly innocent and hard-working woman and mother any harm”, Jafferjee said.

He added, “Harpreet Aulakh's reaction displayed a chilling belief almost certainly culturally rooted in male unaccountability.

'How dare a mere woman…. challenge that smug chauvinist mindset?”

At the time of her murder last year, Geeta was working as a receptionist at a community radio station in Southall.

Shortly after the murder, one of her work colleagues at the radio station, described how she walked part of the way home with her.

Radio producer Seema Sidha described Geeta as a “happy person” and said they were strolling along and chatting for several minutes. After Seema caught a train home, Geeta continued walking along on her own until she was ambushed.





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