FOREIGN OFFICE FORCED INTO ACTION OVER TORTURE OF BRITISH SIKH MAN
• Over 175 MPs take up case of 30-year old Scot Jagtar Singh Johal • Up to 1,000 to protest outside Foreign and Commonwealth Office tomorrow between 12 noon and 2pm • Martin Docherty-Hughes MP highlights lack of consular support and torture by Indian police of his constituent in Parliament and demands statement from Foreign Secretary • Scottish government expresses deep concern and contacts Foreign Office demanding answers
London – 15 November 2017
On 4 November when Jagtar Singh Johal, out shopping with his newly wed wife, was abducted by plain clothes Indian policemen, his family in the UK immediately contacted the British High Commission in Delhi and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.
They also communicated with their local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes and Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs to inform them of the developing situation.
The next day his two brothers got on the first available flight from Glasgow to Delhi and urged the British High Commission in person to provide consular support to Jagtar as a matter of urgency.
Indian police in desperate pursuit of Jagtar’s British passport harassed and threatened many of his family members in India and even resorted to threats to family in the UK.
The two brothers fearing for their safety, threats to their family in the UK and having lodged Jagtar Singh’s passport with the British High Commission in Delhi on 8 November returned to the UK the next day.
On 10 November when Jagtar was produced in court he was denied access to his lawyers, British High Commission representative and family who were all present. We now know this was because he was being subjected to third degree torture.
At his next appearance in court on 14 November and to the dismay of Jagtar and his family the British High Commission failed to send a representative. The judge used the absence to extend remand for three days for the police to locate his British passport and ignored the receipt provided by his lawyer proving the passport had been lodged with the British High Commission.
Up to 1,000 Sikhs are expected to protest tomorrow outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 12 noon and 2pm with the family demanding written confirmation:
i. A British High Commission representative will be present at Jagtar’s next appearance before the court on 17 November and be willing to confirm they are holding his British passport for safe keep ii. They will demand an independent medical examination to verify Jagtar’s claims of third degree police torture iii. A senior British High Commission officer will be assigned to this case who will liaise directly with Jagtar’s family iv. Boris Johnson will meet with Jagtar’s family and make representations to his Indian counterpart demanding his immediate release and return to the UK
The family and campaigners are set to meet senior Foreign Office officials and lawyers immediately after the protest to discuss the case. The Head of Consular Policy in an email to the family confirmed:
“Today, our Deputy High Commission raised the access point with his counter-part at the Ministry of External Affairs today. If this does not lead to access in the near future, then we will escalate our lobbying efforts.”
Sources in India have suggested the BJP government in Delhi are undoubtedly furious with the handling of this case by the Congress government in Punjab as it has seriously damaged the international image and reputation of India. Some have already cancelled their planned trips to Punjab and others who invest there are having second thoughts.
The BJP government will want this case resolved as quickly as possible or the risk is it will drag on and do more damage to relations with Britain as Martin Docherty-Hughes said today in Parliament “this is a matter of urgency for our relationship with the Republic of India.” ENDS
Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)