15-year-old case of murdered British Sikh woman remains unsolved
By News Desk
Fifteen years since a pregnant woman was found strangled and burned at her home in Quinton, Birmingham, the case still remains unsolved.
Kuldeep Kaur Sidhu, who was 25 years old at the time of her death, had lost her life by the time the firefighters arrived and smashed their way into the burning home. The incident led to several questions, which have remained unanswered since.
The woman’s body was discovered with a rope tied around her neck and body. Adding to the confusion was a strange suicide note, which was subsequently read in its entirety by a coroner, which is reported to be unusual. It was determined not to have been authored by the deceased, Birmingham Live reports.
Investigations uncovered that Sidhu was in fact strangled to death. During the inquest, it was concluded that this was a case of unlawful killing, with the use of both the rope and the fire being identified as attempts to conceal the crime. However, to date, no one has been held accountable for this tragic incident.
Sikh activists have demanded justice for the woman as West Midlands Police are still nowhere close to finding any evidence. Sidhu was newly married and in the early stages of pregnancy when the tragic incident occurred.
Sikh Women’s Aid, a domestic abuse charity based in the West Midlands, is advocating for a reopening of her case. This effort is part of a broader initiative aimed at preventing the forgotten deaths of murdered Sikh women and providing their loved ones with the closure they seek.
According to Birmingham Live, Aidan Cotter, who served as Birmingham Coroner at the time, asserted that Sidhu’s death was not the result of a stranger’s actions. Instead, it was a deliberate attempt to stage her death as a suicide, with the fire set in order to eliminate evidence. He 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.”
It’s notable that she had been married for only six months when she tragically passed away, and she was in the early stages of pregnancy at the time of her death.
Years have passed, but the case remains unresolved as law enforcement officers continue to seek information. Sikh Women’s Aid, however, suggests that this case may extend beyond a cruel murder and potentially involve honor-based violence.
Following the inquest into her death, the police highlighted their belief that the key to solving Kuldeep’s case lies with individuals known to her. This indicates their suspicion that someone close to her may have crucial information about what transpired.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Houston, of West Midlands Police, told reporters 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.”
Sikh Women’s Aid reports receiving numerous calls from Sikh women who have experienced domestic abuse, caste discrimination, and cruelty. To prevent more Sikh women from becoming forgotten victims, the organisation has called upon West Midlands Police to reopen Sidhu’s case and appeal for additional witnesses.
Sahdaish Pall 50, CEO of Sikh Women’s Aid, said: “This year was our first vigil because when we looked up these West Midlands cases, even I didnt 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 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.”