Inquest begins in Indian-origin woman’s death in Sydney

Sydney, Sep 29 (IANS) An Indian-origin woman who was burnt to death in 2013 outside her house in suburban Sydney was allegedly the victim of domestic violence, an inquest into her death heard.

Parwinder Kaur, 32, called emergency number triple zero on December 2, the night she died of serious burn injury, to tell the operator she was afraid of her husband Kulwinder Singh, Glebe Coroner’s Court heard here on Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

A few weeks before her death, Kaur rang up the emergency number and said “my husband nearly killed me”, before abruptly ending the call.

Philip Strickland, counsel assisting the inquest, said a post-mortem examination revealed a large bruise on the woman’s head that could not be explained by the fire.

In the years leading up to Kaur’s death, she had told family and friends on a number of occasions that her husband had physically abused her, and some had seen bruises on her body, Strickland said.

The abuse included being slapped in the face with a shoe, kicked in the stomach and pushed during arguments.

There is “overwhelming evidence that there had been a series of long and very serious disagreements about financial matters” between the couple, Strickland told the court.

He said it was possible that the woman had set herself afire to draw attention to the abuse that she had been suffering or to provide a “circuit breaker” that would help bring about the end of her marriage.

However, he said, this hypothesis did not fit with the bruise on Kaur’s forehead or the fact that, unlike the vast majority of self-immolation cases, the petrol had been poured on Kaur’s body rather than her head.

Kaur died at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital from burn injuries on the night of December 2. Her husband later said she set herself alight after he thretened to leave her. No charges were brought against him.

The inquest will try to piece together the events leading to Kaur’s death.

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