Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has called on the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘get serious’ as campaigners prepare to march on parliament in support of a Scot imprisoned in India for the past twelve months.
Jagtar Singh Johal, a 31 year old from Dumbarton, had been married for just two weeks when he was seized by Indian police in Jalandhar City, Punjab in November 2017 – an arrest which led to allegations of physical and mental torture in the days that followed.
Since then, his family along with other members of the wider Sikh and Scottish community, have campaigned tirelessly for these allegations to be properly addressed. Thanks to the campaign, supported Martin Docherty-Hughes and a cross-party group of MPs, the case was raised in a bilateral meeting between the Prime Minister and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in April.
Despite this pressure, the allegations of torture – detailed by the human rights charity REDRESS in a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture – have yet to be addressed.
The family’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes will host an event in the House of Commons on Wednesday 14 November where supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign will gather in a mass lobby of MPs marking the one year anniversary of Jagtar’s alleged torture.
SNP MP Docherty-Hughes will speak at the rally alongside Jagtar’s family and representatives of REDRESS to call for the UK government to step up its efforts to secure ‘justice for Jaggi’.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“Regardless of the accusations against Jagtar his rights to an open and fair judicial process must be protected. But after months of delays and more than 60 pre-trial appearances there has yet to be a single shred of evidence presented against him.
“When I raised my constituent’s case in parliament last year, I was assured by Ministers that the UK government would take ‘extreme action’ in response to the torture and mistreatment of a British citizen.
“Despite these assurances, my constituent and his family have been left frustrated by a lack of interest in Jagtar’s welfare by the UK government and in particular the Foreign Secretary.
“I’m grateful for the broad cross-party support the campaign has received from MPs across the country. It’s now time for the Foreign Secretary to listen and show that the UK government is serious about protecting the rights of its citizens abroad.”
Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS, said:
“As time goes on it is increasingly vital that these serious torture allegations are investigated without further delay, and the Indian authorities must ensure that any evidence obtained by torture is not used against Jagtar.”
Gurpreet Singh Johal, Jagtar’s brother, said:
“Whilst the physical torture stopped, the mental torture continues to date. The UK government have also failed Jagtar, although they ‘promised extreme action’ if found that a British citizen had been subject to torture and mistreatment. The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has failed to meet the family. It’s becoming more and more evident that it is ‘trade over human rights’.”