This week, for the 89th time in 16 years, I will be heading to India to seek justice for my murdered mother, Dr. Asha Goel.
According to police and court documents that have been filed in Mumbai, she was killed by four assassins, hired by two of her brothers over a dispute about their father’s $10-million estate.
She was trying to broker peace between her brothers when she was stabbed and bludgeoned to death at our family’s ancestral home in August of 2003.
My 62-year-old mother was an obstetrician and gynecologist, who over 40 years delivered more than 10,000 babies in Orangeville, Ont. and Saskatchewan. Dozens of her patients have named their children Asha because she excelled in complicated births.
Most importantly, my mother was a proud Canadian; a defender of the health-care system and an advocate for women.
However, she is being treated as anything but a Canadian.
For over a decade now, we have been trying to get assistance from the RCMP and Ottawa to help us bring the alleged killers to justice.
They have done nothing, saying this an Indian case and I should take my concerns to India.
One of my mother’s brothers, Subhash Agrawal, who has an Interpol Red Notice against him, remains beyond the long arm of Indian law as a Canadian citizen living in the Toronto area.
Since my mother’s murder, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, DNA analysis and travel, to assist in the investigations.
Indian police, who have come to Canada, said they could not get any meaningful assistance here.
One of the hired killers has also gone before an Indian magistrate, confessing to the murder and exposing those who hired him and his accomplices.
Time is Running Out
The case against my mother’s killers is strong. But it is deteriorating given the passage of time and Canada’s reluctance to get involved.
Now, one of the warring brothers, the architect of the crime, has died. One of the hired killers, charged in the case, has also died. My aunt, a key witness to the events that led up to the murder, has died, too.
Evidence collected over the years has been misplaced in India, jeopardizing the trial.
Certain key documents have expired due to statutes of limitations that govern their enforcement shelf live.
I fear my 82-year-old father, who is making the trek to India with me this time, may not ever see justice done for his wife.
Sometimes I keep asking myself, would things be different if my mother was a white Canadian?
I have seen swift and decisive RCMP action in many other cases involving Canadians killed in Mexico, the United States and Europe.
But when it comes to Indo-Canadians being killed in India, there seems to be a different standard.
My story is not unlike that of the long running Canada-India murder case involving the contract-killing of Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, a beautician from Maple Ridge in British Columbia.
Sidhu aka ‘Jassi’, 25, was killed in Punjab, India, in June 2000 after she defied her family to marry the man she loved – a poor rickshaw driver from her ancestral village.
Within days, Indian police arrested the assassins, who they said were hired by Jassi’s mother and uncle, living in Canada.
I can only hope that I don’t have to wait that long.
Canada, has so far not helped me get justice for my mom. But many Canadians have. I thank you for that.
When not on his quest for justice, Sanjay Goel is the president of the Vancouver-based holiday business, Cruise Connections Canada.