West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has made a direct appeal to Boris Johnson urging the UK government to finally end the four year arbitrary detention in India of Dumbarton man Jagtar Singh Johal.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this week, local MP Docherty-Hughes highlighted the 4th anniversary of Jagtar’s arrest in India – where he has been incarcerated without trial since travelling for his wedding in November 2017.
34 year old Jagtar – known as Jaggi – is facing charges which carry a possible death sentence, following accusations by the Indian authorities of his involvement in a plot to destabilise the Panjab region by assassinating right-wing Hindu leaders.
Jagtar’s family in Dumbarton strongly maintain his innocence – suggesting Jaggi is being held as a political prisoner because he sought to draw attention to human rights abuses against India’s Sikh population in an online blog.
No evidence against Jagtar has been brought forward, apart from signed blank documents which his legal team say he was forced to sign after being severely tortured over a number of days during his early detention.
International human rights charities including Reprieve and Redress have expressed concerns about Jagtar’s torture and mistreatment in India. They say the circumstances of his arrest and imprisonment for four years without trial or bail amounts to an arbitrary detention.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:
“The Prime Minister is very much aware of my constituent Jagtar Singh Johal, who was abducted by plainclothes officers while shopping with his new wife in the city of Jolanda, Punjab on the 4th of November 2017.
“The intervening years, Mr Speaker, have seen allegations of torture overlooked and ostensibly strong words from his government about the case overshadowed by excitement over a trade deal with the Republic of India.
“Therefore, as we approach the fourth anniversary of Jagtar’s arrest, with no formal charges having been brought in the case by the government of India, will this government be able to grant the smallest of favours to Jagtar’s wife and his family in Dumbarton and declare his detention an arbitrary one?”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson responded:
“I thank Martin Docherty-Hughes for the campaign that he’s been running for a long time. And what I would say to him is that the closeness of our relationship with India in no way diminishes our willingness to raise that case with the government of India. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary raised it only the last time she was in India.”