MPs call for Release of detained Jagtar Singh Johal

MPs have called for the release of Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained without conviction in India and allegedly tortured.

MPs call for Release of detained Jagtar Singh Johal

"British government must make clear this is unacceptable."

Nearly 140 MPs and peers have written to Dominic Raab urging him to do more to secure the release of Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained in India since 2017.

He faces the death penalty in India after a confession was allegedly extracted under torture.

The letter urges the foreign secretary to accept that Jagtar Singh Johal is being detained randomly and says that at least three of the charges against him carried the death penalty.

In the letter, the parliamentarians wrote:

“When a British national is arbitrarily detained, tortured, and faces a potential death sentence, all on the basis of trumped-up political charges, the British government must make clear this is unacceptable.

“This is a moment for the UK to take a stand and bring this young British man home.”

Signatories include the likes of former Brexit secretary David Davis; former international development secretary Hilary Benn and former Foreign Office minister Lord Hain.

In their letter, they claimed that Mr Johal is a Sikh human rights activist from Dumbarton, Scotland who travelled to India in October 2017.

Three weeks after his marriage, he was violently arrested by plainclothed officers in Punjab before being “bound, hooded and bundled into a car”.

They wrote: “We understand that his arrest was unlawful, amounting in effect to an abduction by the state.”

After his detention, they added:

“Jagtar was brutally tortured with electricity into ‘confessing’ his involvement in an alleged conspiracy.”

Jagtar Singh Johal is being supported by the legal NGO Reprieve, which said the charges of procuring arms, conspiracy to commit murder and a terrorist act all carry the death penalty in India.

It was alleged he gave £3,000 to fund a conspiracy to kill members of the nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a charge he denies.

Despite 145 court appearances, Mr Johal’s trial has been repeatedly delayed at the prosecution’s request, and basic information to his defence counsel has been denied.

Dan Dolan, Reprieve deputy director, said:

“It’s baffling that the Foreign Office hasn’t sought Jaggi’s release.

“We’re talking about a young British man facing a death sentence, based on nothing but a supposed confession he recorded after being tortured with electricity.

“It is about as clear a case of arbitrary detention as you can imagine, but the government hasn’t acted to bring him home. Why?”

The matter is likely to be diplomatically sensitive for Boris Johnson as he looks to cement economic ties with India by travelling to see Narendra Modi on a postponed trip, as well as to host Modi as a guest at the UK’s G7 gathering which is set for Cornwall in June 2021.

It is part of a wider UK government focus towards the Indo-Pacific that is likely to be a central feature of the UK’s ‘global Britain’ strategy.

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”