The family of a British mother who died during a trip to India have spoken of their “pain” over not receiving justice and the “lack of help” from the UK government.
Seeta Kaur, 33, who has four children, died in what the family claims are “highly suspicious circumstances” in the northern state of Haryana in March 2015.
Indian police investigated her death and have closed the case. The family said Kaur’s death certificate does not have an official cause of death on it.
Two of her sisters, Geeta and Swinder, told Eastern Eye the way that police handled the case was “disgusting”.
It comes as the family, from north London, launched a Justice for Seeta Kaur campaign at the Houses of Parliament this week with the Southall Black Sisters campaign group and MPs.
Swinder, Seeta’s older sister, said police are not looking into the possibility that she was killed. “When we were in India, it was disgusting, terrible, very unorganised,” she said.
“They were very unprofessional. When we said to write the police report, they kept telling us to compromise instead. It was really painful and hurtful.
“This is what they were telling us to do: ‘Don’t write the report, take your family back to the UK’.”
The family were told Seeta died of a “sudden heart attack”, but said they found bruises on her body and a scratch on her face.
She was cremated without their knowledge before they could fly her back to London.
Swinder added: “There was no medical history that she suffered from heart problems.
“When I saw her and removed the cloth from her face in the coffin, I saw bruises on her neck and her upper chest. And there was a scratch mark on her face.”
The family has written to foreign secretary Boris Johnson to highlight their long wait for justice, urging him to tell Indian police to reopen the case.
They also claim the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Metropolitan Police offered little help.
Geeta, Seeta’s twin sister, said: “We didn’t receive any sort of help. They washed their hands by saying that the crime happened in India.”
The FCO’s charter states it can provide help to British nationals overseas regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, religion or belief. But it cannot interfere in another country’s legal system.
Pragna Patel, director of Southall Black Sisters, said: “What we would like to see is the Foreign Office doing more to put pressure on the Indian police to investigate this matter properly. Instead, they are saying, ‘get a lawyer and do it yourself’.
“We want to change the law – if a UK national is killed or harmed abroad, it should be the duty of the British state to investigate.
“Another thing that is disturbing is if it’s a British white person, they probably would provide more support.
“In the case of two backpackers murdered in Thailand in 2014 [Hannah Witheridge and David Miller], David Cameron got on the phone to the Thai prime minister to ensure there was a proper investigation.
“Why can’t Theresa May do it for this case? There is an appearance of discrimination.”
Patel said that a fresh investigation into Seeta’s death is needed. “It’s devastating in seeking justice for women, crimes against women continue to be ignored in India.
“The family is trying to use lawyers in India to challenge the police decision to close the case, that will take another 10 years I suspect before they get anywhere,” she added.
“Every time they find a lawyer, they keep getting an adjournment in court.”
An FCO spokeswoman said on the issue: “Our sympathies are with the family of Seeta following her tragic death last year.
“Our staff in India and in the UK have provided assistance to her family and will continue to support them however we can.”