Published: 10:00, 12 April 2012
Exclusive by Rachel Hovenden
The Mayor of Gravesham was forced to break from a twinning visit after his mother was jailed for kidnap and forcing an abortion on a teenage mother, who later died.
Cllr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said he fully supports Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, and she will be appealing against her conviction.
In a statement, he said he was relieved he was able to see her after she was jailed along with his uncle in India for kidnap and forcing a girl to abort her four-and-a-half-month foetus.
Cllr Dhesi happened to be in the country along with a delegation from Gravesham council as part of a twinning visit to the Punjab.
The jail sentence was handed down as Cllr Dhesi, who became the UK’s youngest Sikh mayor in May last year, visited Jalandhar with four other members of the council including Gravesham council leader Cllr John Burden, as part of a five-day trip to strengthen relationships with the borough’s twin town.
The delegation had signed an agreement formally linking the city of Jalandhar with the borough on Wednesday, March 28, under the town twinning programme, according to the Hindustan Times.
Then on Friday, March 30, media in India reported that Cllr Dhesi’s mother, Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, and uncle Paramjit Singh Raipur, were jailed for five years for the kidnap of Harpreet Kaur, 19, in 2000 and their part in the alleged forced abortion of her child.
They were jailed alongside Jagir Kaur, who Indian media reported was the dead 19-year-old’s mother and a member of the Punjab government, and Nishan Singh, said to be Jagir Kaur’s bodyguard.
Kaur was also a friend of Cllr Dhesi’s mother.
On Sunday, April 1, Cllr Dhesi visited his mother in prison, shortly before he flew back to the UK.
Mayor of Gravesham, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, with five high priests from India who had travelled to watch him being sworn in as Mayor
It is understood she has already lodged an appeal against her conviction.
Cllr Dhesi said: “Obviously I support my mother and my family and I was relieved to have been allowed to see her briefly before we returned. I cannot comment further on the case while an appeal is pending.”
A council spokesman added: “There will be no further statements until the appeal is concluded.”
Cllr Dhesi’s father Jaspal Singh Dhesi, husband of Dalwinder, is president of Gravesend’s £14m Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Guru Nanak Marg, Gravesend.
Cllr Dhesi’s mother had spent most of her childhood in Gravesend and the family moved back to the area after spending some time in Slough.