"The reasons cited are political pressure"
A case involving three British Sikh men has been dropped following a show of solidarity outside Westminster Magistrates Court.
Huge crowds involving members of the Sikh community gathered outside the court to show support for the men.
The three men, all from the West Midlands, were arrested in December 2020 after the Indian authorities alleged that they were involved in an attack on Rulda Singh, a member of the militant group RSS in 2009.
That is despite them not being in India when the attack happened and without any concrete evidence.
However, it is believed that the men came onto the Indian government’s radar when they were in Punjab from 2005 to 2008.
The men were Sikh human rights activists who had been documenting the extrajudicial murder of Sikhs, specifically the Khanpur massacre.
The men were due to battle against extradition to India where they were likely to face the death penalty.
If the extradition were to go through, there was concern that regular extradition attempts involving Sikh activists would happen.
They were cleared of the allegations in 2011, however, two of the three men were investigated by UK Terror Police in 2018.
Electronic devices were seized and kept for investigation for over a year.
But no charges were brought forward.
According to human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce, the 2018 raids were said to show a “paper trail” to Jagtar Singh Johal, the Scottish national who has been detained in India since 2017.
It was reported that the three men were targeted again due to their work on the #FreeJaggiNow campaign.
Gareth Peirce indicated that whilst being tortured, Mr Johal gave the names of UK-based activists he worked with and who were supporting #FreeJaggiNow.
Their planned extradition to India attracted attention on September 22, 2021, the day of their hearing.
Members of the Sikh community gathered outside the court while #WestMidlands3 circulated on Twitter.
— UB1UB2 (@UB1UB2) September 22, 2021
The case was eventually dropped and their extradition to India was prevented.
Maniv Singh Sevadar, of Sikh Human Rights, explained how the case was dropped. He said:
“The case started at about 10:30 am and in a dramatic turn of events, the Crown Prosecution Service has dropped the case.
“The reasons cited are political pressure and pressure from the community, so this is a landmark.
“We know India had 40 extra extraditions lined up from the UK.”
Mr Sevadar went on to say that had the extradition been granted, it would have given these other extraditions the “green flag” to go ahead.
He praised the unity of the Sikh community, stating that they can take on any government.
The dropping of the case continued to attract attention on Twitter.
MP Preet Kaur Gill said: “This is a huge victory for the #WestMidlands3 and the Sikh community. Gareth Peirce’s statement raises serious questions for the Govt- why did the Home Sec sign extradition order, why she wasted taxpayers money and put British families and Sikh community under immense distress.”
This is a huge victory for the #WestMidlands3 and the Sikh community. Gareth Pierce, statement raises serious questions for the Govt- why did the Home Sec sign extradition order, why she wasted taxpayers money, and put British families and Sikh community under immense distress. pic.twitter.com/xie3rnKBas
— Preet Kaur Gill MP (@PreetKGillMP) September 22, 2021
Following the success of the case being dropped, many are now calling for the UK government to make a concerted effort to have Jagtar Singh Johal released.