Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has called on new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to offer his full support to the family of a Dumbarton man imprisoned in India.
The SNP MP has written to the new Foreign Secretary highlighting the plight of his constituent Jagtar Singh Johal who has been detained in India since November 2017 after travelling from Scotland for his wedding.
In the days following Jagtar’s arrest, it is alleged that he was tortured by electric shock to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limbs into opposite directions and forced sleep deprivation. But these allegations remain unproven as the Indian authorities have refused to allow for an independent medical examination.
After raising his constituent’s case in parliament, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP received assurances from UK government Ministers that “extreme action” would be taken in the event of a British national being tortured.
However, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson failed to meet with the MP or his constituent’s family prior to quitting his cabinet post last month.
Jeremy Hunt has been urged to honour the commitment and do everything possible to support Jagtar’s family following his new appointment as Foreign Secretary,.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“In the 9 months since Jagtar’s detention his family here in Dumbarton have been tireless campaigners on his behalf.
“Their determination in the face of such heartache and concern for his wellbeing has been remarkable.
“I continue to work closely with Jagtar’s family – raising Jaggi’s case repeatedly in parliament and highlighting concerns about his mistreatment.
“Whilst Boris Johnson showed little interest in my constituent’s plight during his time as Foreign Secretary, I expect his successor to honour the commitment made to my constituent’s family.
“It’s been a frustrating process, but we remain determined to do everything possible to ensure Jaggi is afforded a fair and transparent judicial process by the Indian authorities.
“I hope to secure a meeting with the new Foreign Secretary as soon as possible to press for his full support on behalf of Jagtar and his family.”
Text of the letter from Martin Docherty-Hughes MP to the Foreign Secretary:
May I begin by congratulating you on your appointment as Secretary of State to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at such an important time.
While being briefed on the ongoing consular work of the department, I’m sure you will have been made aware of the case of my constituent, Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been in jail in India since being arrested in Jalandhar, Punjab last November.
In the days following his arrest, Jagtar alleges that he was tortured by electric shock to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limbs into opposite directions and forced sleep deprivation – although these allegations remain unproven as the Indian authorities have refused to allow for an independent medical examination.
When I first raised the issue at FCO questions on the 21st of November last year, I was assured by then Minister of State Rory Stewart that “We will work very closely to investigate the matter and will, of course, take extreme action if a British citizen is being tortured”.
In the months since this commitment, I have met several times with FCO officials, including Minister of State Mark Field, and while I do not doubt the seriousness with which they are treating the case, we still really remain no further forward in ensuring any of the fundamental issues at the heart of the case have been dealt with.
Jagtar remains accused of very serious crimes, and while I know neither of us can interfere directly in ongoing proceedings, my aim as Jagtar’s MP has been to ensure that India’s respect for due process, along with a commitment to transparency and accountability, are upheld as much as possible. This is something I believe that you too are in a position to advocate.
Immediately prior to your appointment, I was given a commitment on the floor of the House by your predecessor that he would meet with me to discuss the case further, and I write to you today to ask that you might consider honouring that commitment.
Jagtar’s father, along with his brothers and grandmother, have spent these months worrying about his health and wellbeing, as he sits in a cell some 7,000 kilometres away from their home in Brucehill, Dumbarton, having to come to terms with the fact that it is an ordeal which may go on for much longer. I believe an assurance from yourself that the FCO continues to treat this case with the utmost seriousness would bring them some comfort, and I hope we can find a mutually agreeable time to meet.
I look forward to your reply.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP