Two murderers deported from Britain to serve their life sentences in India were released months after their arrival in a staggering breach of the prisoner transfer agreement between the two countries.
Harpreet Aulakh, 43, and Sher Singh, 30, were able to hold celebratory parties and fire guns soon after walking out of jail in the city of Amritsar.
Their freedom allowed them to harass the UK-based relatives of their victim by repeatedly phoning them and sending death threats via social media.
Aulakh threatened his murdered wife Geeta’s sister Anita Shinh, saying: ‘When you come to India, I will kill you.’
He was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 28 years after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of masterminding the murder of Mrs Aulakh, 28, in 2009.
Harpreet Aulakh (pictured), 43, and Sher Singh, 30, were able to hold celebratory parties and fire guns soon after walking out of jail in the city of Amritsar
Aulakh paid Singh – who was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years – £5,000 to kill his wife after she asked him for a divorce.
Mrs Aulakh, who suffered domestic violence during their ten-year marriage, was butchered in the street with a 14in machete as she went to collect their two sons from a childminder in Greenford, west London.
After the trial, Judge David Paget said: ‘It is difficult to think of a more vicious and brutal way of killing anybody.’
Aulakh and Singh, Indian nationals who had entered Britain illegally, started their life sentences in December 2010.
Eight years later, they were deported to India under a prisoner transfer scheme and were expected to serve the rest of their sentences behind bars.
Aulakh had 20 years left and Singh 14 before they were eligible for parole.
Aulak was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 28 years after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of masterminding the murder of his wife Geeta Aulakh (pictured), 28, in 2009
But astonishingly, the pair were granted early release months later and celebrated by holding parties with large groups of men.
They documented their freedom on Facebook, proudly posing with grinning friends. In one video, Aulakh is seen firing two shots from a pistol into the sky at an open-air party.
And a photo shows him with his hands on his hips next to a marijuana field.
Days after his release, he used Facebook to harass his two teenage sons, whom he has been banned from contacting.
Taunting his victim’s sister over his release from jail, Aulakh wrote: ‘What about getting life? You know what I mean.’
Mrs Shinh, a long-haul flight attendant who lives in west London, said: ‘He is laughing at me because he has walked free, even though an Old Bailey judge put him in jail for a minimum of 28 years.
Aulakh paid Singh (pictured,– who was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years, £5,000 to kill his wife after she asked him for a divorce
‘What was the point in spending all that money on a trial and keeping them in a maximum-security prison in Britain, for them to walk free in India as soon as they arrive?
‘I’ll never get my sister back, but knowing that her killers are out many years too early makes it much worse.’
Mrs Shinh, 41, complained to the Ministry of Justice and after initial scepticism, civil servants were shocked to discover the truth.
She received a letter from Justice Secretary Robert Buckland apologising for the ‘deep distress caused by the early release’ of the pair.
He said he had raised the matter with Indian government officials and had been assured the pair had been returned to prison.
In the letter, Mr Buckland said steps were being taken to ensure the killers serve the rest of their sentence in full.
While the pair are understood to have been put back in jail, their experience is likely to be very different from a maximum security prison in the UK.
Sources told the Mail it was common for criminals to be granted ‘weekend furlough’ so they could visit friends and relatives.
And a month after Mr Buckland’s letter, more videos and pictures of the pair partying outside jail appeared on social media.
One showed Singh, 30, posing with what appeared to be an AK-47 assault rifle.
And last year, a video emerged of a bare-chested Aulakh laughing and drinking beer with Singh at a party. The background clearly shows they are not in a prison.
Earlier this year Singh, who had been moved to a jail in western Punjab, escaped when staff allegedly ‘turned a blind eye’. Three prison officials were suspended for negligence. Singh is still at large.
Their freedom allowed them to harass UK-based relatives of their victim. Aulakh threatened his wife Geeta’s sister Anita Shinh (pictured with her parents Lakhwinder and Nardesh)
Yesterday Indian officials assured their British counterparts that Aulakh is now in jail.
But multiple sources told the Mail he only has to sign in at the prison each day before being allowed to move freely in society.
‘Aulakh is well connected in Punjab and has a powerful uncle,’ a source said. ‘Everyone has a price in India and he will have paid people off to enjoy his freedom.’
Mrs Shinh said: ‘These men are still out. I have the threats to prove it. Do I wait for Aulakh to get a fake passport, come over to England and kill us all off before anyone believes me?
‘He and Singh slipped into Britain illegally the first time round, so there is no reason they couldn’t do it again.’
She added: ‘The UK Government is sending back murderers, allowing them to walk free.’
A source close to the original investigation that brought the killers to justice said: ‘It’s shameful that it was allowed to happen.
‘I feel disappointed for the family. They expect to see justice served for the full length of the sentences and they haven’t got that.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘These reports are extremely concerning and we have raised this as a matter of urgency with the Indian authorities.’
The Indian justice department did not respond to requests for a comment.