Surrey man who hacked wife to death sentenced to life in prison

Submitted photo of Manmeet Singh and wife Ravinder Bhangu.

JENNIFER SALTMAN
VANCOUVER DESI

A B.C. Supreme Court judge who sentenced a man convicted brutally murdering his wife to life in prison with no parole for 16 years called violence against women “abhorrent” and said it should be denounced in the strongest terms possible.

“Women in Canada, and indeed in any civilized society, are equal persons to be afforded the full protections of the law and have the corresponding rights and privileges, including the complete liberty to make their own choices as human beings in accordance with the freedoms available to all,” Justice Miriam Maisonville said in her decision Friday.

Manmeet Singh, 28, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of 23-year-old Ravinder Kaur Bhangu.

At around 11:30 a.m. on July 28, 2011, Singh walked into the Surrey office of Sach Di Awaaz newspaper, where Bhangu worked as an administrative assistant, armed with a hatchet and two knives.

Singh went up to Bhangu and struck her at least twice in head with the hatchet, cracking her skull.

Bhangu raised her arms to defend herself and two of her coworkers tried to help her. Narinder Nayar was hit in the back of his shoulder with the hatchet.

Singh then dropped the hatchet, pulled out one of the knives and stabbed Bhangu more than 30 times.

During the attack Singh told the those in the office that Bhangu was his wife, she was unfaithful to him and she cheated on him.

As he stood next to his dying wife, clutching a bloody knife, Singh asked a bystander to call 911. Singh told the operator, in Punjabi, that he had killed his wife. Surrey RCMP arrested Singh at the office.

Maisonville agreed with the Crown’s submission that the crime was “extraordinarily brutal.”

“It arose from the personal belief of the accused that he was entitled to take revenge,” Maisonville said.

Singh expressed remorse for his actions in a brief statement to the court.

“I have committed a grave mistake,” he said through a Punjabi interpreter. “I don’t have the right to take anybody’s life, so please forgive me.”

Singh and Bhangu met and fell in love in college in India and married in 2008. Singh, who had previously moved to Surrey with his family, sponsored his wife in August 2009.

In April 2011, Bhangu left Singh and moved in with a family friend. Singh tried to convince her to stay, but she asked for a divorce. He was devastated.

Singh’s lawyer argued that the murder was not an honour killing, but the act of a depressed man. He asked the judge to consider Singh’s crime in the context of his upbringing in a “misogynistic culture.”

“I reject that submission,” Maisonville said.

Outside court, Bhangu’s friend and fellow dance teacher Baljinder Gill emphasized that it’s not consistent with the Indian culture to treat women as if they are second-class citizens.

“It’s only weak minds who treat women in that kind of way,” she said. “I can’t blame it on the whole community.”

She and others described Bhangu as beautiful, talented, kind, caring, honest and always smiling.

Ravinder Bhangu’s friend Baljinder Gill (left) speaks outside New
Westminster court. PNG photo

“Each day I wake up she is in front of my eyes. It is not easy,” said Gill.

Sukhjinder Sandhu, the family friend with whom Bhangu lived when she separated from Singh, said the length of Singh’s period of parole ineligibility won’t make a difference for Bhangu’s family.

“I can’t describe their pain,” he said. “I don’t have the words to explain. No matter what, she’s not coming back.”

jensaltman@theprovince.com
twitter.com/jensaltman

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