Lahore (PTI): A Pakistani court here has acquitted a man allegedly involved in the kidnap-cum-murder of an Indian-Canadian businesswoman.
Additional District and Sessions Lahore Judge Irfan Basra last Saturday acquitted Hafiz Shahzad in the murder of Rajvinder Kaur Gill after the prosecution failed to establish the charges against him.
The court gave the suspect the “benefit of the doubt.”
Five years ago, Lahore police had registered a murder case against Hafiz Shahzad, Shahid Ghazanfar alias Karishna Roy and some unidentified accused on the complaint of Sikandar Singh Gill, the father of the victim.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), Kaur reached Lahore from Canada on August 25, 2012, and also confirmed her arrival to the family over telephone. When she reached Lahore she had a Canadian passport, cash, a laptop, gold ornaments and other valuables.
The complainant said Kaur was in regular contact with Shahid Ghazanfar alias Karishna Roy, Hafiz Shahzad and others.
Ghazanfar in connivance with Shahzad and other accomplices kidnapped her to rob her of money and later killed her, the complainant said.
Sikandar Singh Gill’s counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa said the accused had made a confession before the magistrate that he and other accomplices had killed Rajvinder Kaur Gill over monetary matters and thrown her body into Khanpur canal on Sheikhupura Road (some 50 km from Lahore) the day she reached Lahore.
“We will challenge the acquittal in the Lahore High Court as police have enough evidence against the accused,” Bajwa said.
Ghazanfar, who managed to leave Pakistan after allegedly committing the crime, is reportedly facing trial abroad.
Rajvinder Kaur Gill was a distant female relative of former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of India’s Punjab.
According to Sikandar Singh Gill, his daughter, a Canadian national of Indian origin, had reached Lahore in August 2012 to attend a conference here and later went missing.
“My daughter had fallen in love with a man who introduced him to her as Krishna based in Lahore on Facebook. Primarily, she went to Lahore to meet Krishna,” he said.
In a letter to Badal which he handed over to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on his Lahore visit this month, Singh said: “I served the Indian Air Force before I moved to Canada 13 years ago. My other family members including Ravinder Kaur who is in her 30s also joined me in 2007.
“My daughter then moved to Switzerland after she got a job in a bank in Zurich. She went to Lahore to attend a conference in August 2012 and remained in touch with me for few days. She also went to Gurdawar Janamasthan, Nankana Sahib. She told me that she was going to meet a journalist ‘Iqbal Hussain of News One’ before we lost contact with her.”
He added: “Dear Brother! Since I know you have strong relations with the Pakistan Punjab chief minister and we are optimistic that she will be brought to home safely.”
After learning this, Sharif ordered the authorities concerned to arrest the culprits.
According to a Facebook page set up by her family back in 2012, Gill moved to Canada with her family and lived in Mission. She worked for CIBC in Vancouver until 2006. She had recently left her job at a private banking group in Zurich, Switzerland.
It was reported in the media in December 2012 that Lahore city police chief Aslam Tareen told the high court that Gill was killed soon after she arrived in the city. Police have arrested a suspect, Hafiz Shahzad Hussain, who has confessed that he and his cousin, Shahid Ghazanfar, had killed Rajvinder. Ghazanfar, the main accused who is a German of Pakistani origin, is believed to have fled to Germany. Police have alerted Interpol about him.
Ghazanfar, who had known Rajvindar for a long time, had promised to pay back the money he had borrowed from her when she came to Lahore.
“Ghazanfar offered me money if I helped him kill Rajvinder. I agreed. On August 25, we received her in Lahore. She stayed in a hotel for a few days [and] we picked her up on the pretext of striking a diamond deal with a local businessman,” Hussain said.
“We drove her to Sheikhupura [about 40 km from Lahore]. On the way, Ghazanfar gave her tea mixed with sedatives to make her lose consciousness and then strangled her with a rope. We dumped the body in a canal off the Lahore-Sheikhupura road.”
Back in 2012, Interpol carried the following information about Gill:
GILL Rajvinder Kaur
Present family name: GILL
Forename: RAJVINDER KAUR
Date of birth: 12 September 1971 (41 years old)
Place of birth: PUNJAB, India
Nationality: Canada, India
Father’s family name & forename: GILL
Mother’s maiden name & forename: SEKHON
Height: 1.55 meter <-> 61 inches
Weight: 64 kg <-> 141 pounds
Colour of eyes: BROWN
Colour of hair: BLACK
Distinguishing marks and characteristics: mole on left cheek
Language spoken: English, French, German, Hindi, Panjabi
Date of disappearance: 23 August 2012 at 40 years old
Place of disappearance: Lahore, Karachi, Sargohda (cities), Pakistan