'Free Jaggi': Indian-origin MPs lobby Theresa May over 'torture' of British Sikh suspect in India


Indian-origin MPs are among 70 lawmakers in Britain lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene at the -'highest levels-' with the Indian...

Indian-origin MPs are among 70 lawmakers in Britain lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene at the "highest levels" with the Indian government over allegations of torture against a British Sikh murder suspect lodged in a Punjab jail.

Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton in Scotland, was arrested by the Indian authorities in November last year on charges of fanning communal disturbance in Punjab.

Sikh groups in the UK had launched a "Free Jaggi" drive for the 31-year-old and the issue has also been raised in the House of Commons.

As part of renewed efforts in the case, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs has gathered signatures of over 70 MPs on a letter demanding a Parliament statement by UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Johal's detention in India.

"Mr Johal alleges he has been subjected to torture at the hands of the Indian security forces," writes Labour MP and chair of the APPG for British Sikhs Preet Kaur Gill in her letter dated July 2 to Downing Street.

"In a recent handwritten account detailing his treatment that has just become available, Mr Johal alleges 'The torture took place intermittently, numerous times each day. Electric shocks were administered by placing the crocodile clips on my ear lobes, nipples and private parts. Multiple shocks were given each day'.

"And that 'threats of taking me to a remote location where I would be shot dead were also given. At one point, petrol was brought into the room and I was threatened with being burnt," notes the letter entitled 'Detention and torture of British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal'.

The signatories to the letter include Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labour MP and Vice-Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs, and his Labour party colleagues Seema Malhotra, Virendra Sharma and Keith Vaz.

They claim that representations to Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had been to "no avail" and urge Theresa May to "use all the diplomatic means" at her disposal to ensure the government of India "abides by the rule of law".

"I know that you will agree with me that it is intolerable that anyone, let alone a British citizen, is subjected to torture, and ask for your assurance that this matter is being dealt with at the very highest level and as a matter of urgency," Kaur adds.

The MPs also allege that the Indian government has ignored representations by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Woking Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Johal, a Scottish-born Sikh, was in Jalandhar with his family for his wedding in October when he was arrested by plainclothes police officials in the city. The Punjab government has claimed that he is among four suspects arrested in relation to the murder of Hindu leaders in the state.

The Indian government maintains that "due process" is being followed in the case, which was also raised at a ministerial level during the UK visit of Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju in January this year.

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