"An attempt was made to destroy the evidence"
In 2008, pregnant newlywed Kuldeep Kaur Sidhu was found dead at her marital home in Quinton, Birmingham, which had been on fire.
The 25-year-old’s body was found with a rope tied around her neck and wrapped around her body.
A suicide note was also discovered.
However, a coroner stated that the note was not written by Kuldeep. It was also concluded that she had been murdered, with the rope and fire both steps to cover up the crime.
But despite the conclusion, the case remains unsolved 15 years on.
Sikh Women’s Aid is now calling for Kuldeep’s case to be revisited.
It is part of a drive to ensure the deaths of murdered Sikh women are not forgotten and for loved ones to obtain closure.
Aidan Cotter, Birmingham Coroner at the time, said during the inquest in May 2010:
“In my view, the evidence shows clearly this was not murder by a stranger.
“An attempt was made to destroy the evidence by burning her body to make it look as if Kuldeep had taken her own life by hanging. She had not.”
Sikh Women’s Aid believe Kuldeep was a victim of honour-based violence.
After the inquest into her death, police said they believed the answer to Kuldeep’s death lay with those to her.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Houston, of West Midlands Police, said at that time:
“There has been a wide-ranging, painstaking inquiry into the death of Kuldeep Sidhu.
“It is clear from our investigation and from the comments made during the course of this inquest by Mr Cotter that the answer to whoever has committed this murder lies closely around the scene and around those known to Kuldeep.
“Mr Cotter emphasised this was not, in his opinion, murder by a stranger and we believe the evidence points strongly to emphasise this fact.
“I would like to take the opportunity of making a further witness appeal and would ask that people cast their mind back to where they were within the Quinton area or the wider Birmingham area on May 13 and 14, 2008.”
Sahdaish Pall, CEO of Sikh Women’s Aid, said:
“This year was our first vigil because when we looked up these West Midlands cases, even I didn’t know these stories and I have worked in this sector for years.
“It is important these vigils are done to remind people.
“These cases are all linked to shame and the honour of the family.
“We have had a number of cases of Sikh women reporting domestic violence because of caste, they are not accepted and are threatened or suffer violence.
“We encourage them to report this as a hate crime but under the Equality Act 2010 it is treated as racism.
“Sometimes women have a happy marriage but abusive in-laws. These deaths are sad because the families don’t get closure.
“When you look at Sikh women’s cases though they become landmark cases like Kiranjit Ahluwalia or Surjit Athwal. Yet so many people in our community deny abuse happens.
“We have a problem and we have to accept it and do something. We will continue to shout up about Sikh women.”
Jenny Birch, of West Midlands Police homicide review team, issued an update on Kuldeep Kaur Sidhu’s case and another victim, Surinder Kaur Varyapraj:
“We know the pain of losing a loved one can never disappear and it’s why no murder investigation is ever closed.”
“There have been extensive enquiries – and appeals for information – over the years but sadly the identities of both Surinder and Kuldeep’s killers remain unknown.
“There are currently no new, or active lines of investigation into the unconnected deaths at this stage.
“However, we carry out regular reviews of all unsolved murders to assess whether advancements in policing, such as forensics, can assist a case.
“If any new information comes to light or fresh evidential opportunities are identified then these will be fully explored.
“We will never give up trying to get justice for victims and families.”