B.C. woman, feared dead, is latest Canadian to vanish in Pakistan

The Globe and Mail

Rajvinder Gill. (INTERPOL)

A Canadian woman is feared murdered abroad, the latest in a series of mysterious disappearances of Canadian citizens in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Rajvinder Kaur Gill, a 41-year-old involved in the jewellery business whose family is from British Columbia, travelled to Lahore in late August and was never heard from again.

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Her father recently travelled from Mission, B.C., to Pakistan to press authorities publicly for answers after his efforts to do so from Canada stalled. His appeals for justice in Pakistan’s media and its courts appear to have yielded results.

After a hearing on Wednesday in which a judge ordered police to divulge what they know about the case, Pakistani authorities revealed that they believe Ms. Gill was murdered shortly after she arrived. Police said the killers were two men, one of whom is in custody and talking to detectives, while the other remains at large.

Police say the latter is a German citizen of Pakistani heritage who owed Ms. Gill a sizable debt. They alleged that the men were taking Ms. Gill to a diamond exhibition before she was killed and her body tossed into a canal.

The reports from Pakistan are unconfirmed, and the Canadian government is saying little about the case. “Canadian officials are providing consular assistance to the family of a Canadian citizen reported to have passed away in Pakistan,” Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Chrystiane Roy said.

Earlier this week, reports emerged of a strange disappearance of a Canadian in Afghanistan.

In October, Josh Boyle, a 29-year-old Canadian, was travelling through Afghanistan with his wife, Caitlin Coleman, an American. The couple, expecting their first child, stopped communicating with their families after they left Kabul – a period of silence that coincided with local news reports that insurgents had abducted an unnamed Western couple.

This disappearance prompted Ms. Coleman’s parents to go public with their worries in a YouTube video posted two weeks ago, in which the parents plead for the couple’s safe release.

Mr. Boyle had made headlines in 2009, when he wed Zaynab Khadr, the daughter in an Arab-Canadian clan notorious for its links to Osama bin Laden, with whom her family lived for a time in 1990s Afghanistan.

Before that marriage dissolved, Mr. Boyle told The Globe and Mail that he had spent much of his free time researching details about the Khadr family and related cases, and posted many of his findings to the Wikipedia website.

He married Ms. Coleman, a lifelong friend, last July. The couple had travelled through Central America last year before embarking to Central Asia this past summer. They didn’t tell their families they had planned on going to Afghanistan.

“Josh and Caity’s last contact was via an e-mail sent to the Coleman family Oct. 8 updating them on their travels,” Patrick Boyle, Josh’s father, wrote in an e-mail to The Globe.

He added that “We are hopeful that someone caring for them at this stage will become aware that her parents, and we, are very concerned about their well-being.”

The Foreign Affairs Department says the government is hoping to help resolve the case, but won’t address details.

Reports from last October suggest the couple was abducted on a highway near Ghazni, southwest of Kabul.

The previous year, another young Canadian was abducted in Ghazni. Months later, Taliban figures circulated a video of Colin Rutherford, 26, of Toronto, who said he was being treated “humanely” by his captors.

In the video, he speaks of being a tourist intent on visiting shrines and learning local languages.

For more than a year, there have been no known developments in that case. “We are pursuing our efforts with regards to Mr. Rutherford,” Ms. Roy said.

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