Jasvir Ram Ginday with his bride Varkha Rani
London, March 29: A young British Indian is being tried for allegedly killing and incinerating his newly married wife who had found out he was gay and threatened to tell his family and friends.
The case against Jasvir Ram Ginday, 30, has turned the spotlight on social attitudes towards homosexuality and its possible consequences just when Britain has legalised same-sex marriages —from midnight last night.
A dozen such couples have already married, to much acclaim from most of British society, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. But the British Indian community remains deeply conservative, as illustrated by Ginday’s tale.
Rather than risk upsetting his parents by revealing his sexual orientation, Ginday, outwardly an eligible bachelor working for the Royal Bank of Scotland, went to India and went through the charade of a marriage last year.
His wife Varkha Rani, 24, was a highly qualified woman with “a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in science and information technology”.
Back in England, where the marriage was never consummated, she quickly realised the truth about her husband. When she threatened to leave him and reveal his “secret”, he allegedly strangled her with the metal tube of a vacuum cleaner.
He then stuffed her lifeless body into a garden incinerator and set it alight. Police later found her half-burnt skull and bits of her wedding jewellery.
All this was to stop his parents from finding out what he had known from the age of 12. One question that will arise is whether Ginday’s mother, who accompanied her son to India to find him a bride, had any inkling of his sexuality.
Ginday has pleaded guilty to manslaughter. What the jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court has to decide is whether he is guilty of the graver charge of murder, which carries a life sentence.
Giving evidence, Ginday insisted he did not mean to kill his wife. He admitted there were “teething problems” in the marriage and the relationship never got intimate but added: “I definitely did love her.”
Defence lawyer David Nathan, QC, said: “She (Varkha) tells him the last thing he wanted to hear — ‘I’m leaving you… I’m going to expose you for what you really are.’ He snapped and applied too much pressure. He had no intention of killing her.”
Prosecutor Deborah Gould said: “Despite his sexual orientation, in October 2012 the defendant and his mother travelled to India to find him a wife.”
Ginday met and rejected 15 women before meeting Varkha just before his return. “No doubt, to Varkha’s family the defendant appeared to be a perfect match for their intelligent, well-educated and attractive young daughter,” Gould said.
The couple were married on March 28. She then obtained a visa. After her arrival in the UK on August 10 last year, Varkha was “in all senses a stranger in a strange land” and appeared to be isolated, friendless and alone at home in Walsall.
A month before her death on September 12, the family computer revealed, there had been an Internet search for incinerators. There is also evidence that Ginday had bought “a quantity of petrol” on September 12.
The court heard that Ginday strangled his wife before forcing her body into the 22-inch-deep back garden incinerator and setting her body alight. Thick “unpleasant” smoke was seen billowing from the house around 30 minutes after Ginday’s mother left the property.
Ginday visited Walsall police station on September 12 evening, claiming he had last seen Varkha at 5pm when she announced she was leaving him. He claimed she had scratched his face and arms, although he declined to make a formal complaint of assault.
About 8pm on September 13, Ginday, his uncle and two police constables went into the garden of the property. One of the officers then lifted the lid of the metal incinerator at the side of the house and saw the remains of a skull.
Post-mortem examinations by a pathologist and a forensic anthropologist showed Varkha’s body had been folded into the “small furnace” in the foetal position.
Gould told the jury there was no evidence that the “slender and slight” victim was still alive when she was placed in the incinerator.
A bangle, a bracelet, and an inscribed ring presented to Varkha on her wedding day were found in the incinerator after it was taken to a mortuary with the human remains inside.
Jurors also heard that a claw hammer stained with blood matching Varkha’s was found by police in a shed at the house, while burnt jewellery and paperwork was found in adjoining parkland.
“His ultimate intention, the Crown suggests, was to play the role of victim, safe in the knowledge that he could rely upon his married status as a permanent excuse for never having to have another relationship with a woman,” Gould added.
Britain, which left India with an 1861 law that criminalises gay sex, legalised homosexuality on its own soil in 1967. Rainbow flags were flying over government buildings in Britain today to celebrate the latest homosexual law reform.
Cameron hailed the first same-sex marriages in the country as sending a “powerful message” about equality in Britain.
“This weekend is an important moment for our country because we will at last have equal marriage in our country. This is something that has been very important to me,” Cameron said.
“Of course, any marriage takes work, requires patience and understanding, give and take but what it gives back in terms of love, support, stability and happiness is immeasurable. That is not something that the state should ever deny someone on the basis of their sexuality.”
Cameron added: “When people’s love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change. The introduction of same-sex civil marriage says something about the sort of country we are....
“That is so important in trying to create an environment where people are no longer bullied because of their sexuality — and where they can realise their potential, whether as a great mathematician like Alan Turing, a star of stage and screen like Sir Ian McKellen, or a wonderful journalist and presenter like Clare Balding.”