Respected Scottish Sikh activist Jagtar Singh, who went to India for his wedding, had a sack thrown over his head and was bundled into a van whilst out shopping with family, and is now being implicated in a murder case without any official charge levelled at him.
For further information, or for comment from members of the Sikh community/interview opportunities, email Jasveer@SikhPA.com.
Sikhs across the world are sharing their angst at hearing about the case of Jagtar Singh, recognised as yet another all too familiar tale of a Sikh activist being detained based on spurious claims by the Indian state, with the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow going viral.
Jagtar Singh police custody detainment extended, still no official charge
Jagtar Singh, the 30 year old British Sikh who is being detained by Indian police without a charge, was given four days more of remand in police custody, with once again no official charge levelled at him.
The news added to concerns of #FreeJaggiNow campaigners, as in police custody is where torture happens, according to historic cases documented by human rights groups. Jagtar Singh stated to his lawyer that he was being tortured via electrocution and having his legs stretched beyond their capabilities. Since this statement on 14 November, despite support from the British High Commission, an independent medical has been refused by the Punjab judicial system. The extension on his remand will see Jagtar Singh’s detainment without charge, nor any police FIR (First Incident Report) naming him, reach 24 days.
MPs “reach out” directly to Punjab Chief Minister for “transparent and open process”
Preet Kaur, chair of the Sikh All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and Labour MP for Edgbaston, joined Jagtar Singh’s local MP Martin Docherty in writing directly to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder regarding the issue.
Declaring that with reports of torture,“any further delay in charges…would be most concerning” the letter asked for “a fair, transparent and open process”. The letter has been greatly received by supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign who have been concerned about the fact there has been no FIR (First Incident Report) naming Jagtar Singh and no official charge yet made, despite him being in detention since November 4th.
See the letter here.
British High Commission refused permission to see Jagtar Singh by Punjab Police
Brother of Jagtar Singh addresses MPs & community figures in Parliament
Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh, addressed MPs and community figures at the annual Sikh Network Guru Nanak Gurpurab (Guru’s celebration) in Parliament this evening.
The talk by Gurpreet Singh during the event further emphasised the need to continue the fight to challenge the Indian states human rights abuses, which was widely supported by all in attendance, including a plethora of MPs who posed with a #FreeJaggiNow sign.
See images of the event here.
Hindu extremist group leader puts bounty on Sikh MP head for calling out “old tactics of Punjab Police”
Yogesh Batish, leader of far-right India nationalist group Shiv Sena, allegedly offered a reward for “chopping the nose of” Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi party.
The threat came after Mann suggested the Punjab Police would use devious tactics and torture to extract confessions of detainees, in reference to the Jagtar Singh case. See full story here.
Jagtar Singh lawyer says Punjab Police have “something to hide”, after Captain Amarinder refutes torture claim
Jaspal Singh, lawyer of Jagtar Singh, stated “The way Punjab Police rejected our application for an independent medical shows they have something to hide”, in response to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder claiming reports of torture were “baseless”.
Captain Amarinder, who famously made outlandish comments suggest Canadian MPs Jagmeet Singh (NDP Leader) and Harjit Singh Sajjan (Liberal Party Defence Minister) were linked with so-called Sikh extremism, made the comment in a media interview. Captain Amarinder said on the case earlier this month that eight unaccounted for murders were “solved” upon Jagtar Singh’s arrest, before a charge had even made (and still has not been made), let alone a trial.
Read the full story here.
Parliament question on tortured Scot mounts pressure on British Government
The Sikh community today continued to pressure the British government to act swiftly and decisively over Jagtar Singh Johal, the British Sikh who has been tortured in Indian custody without charge. This follows a remark from the Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday that the Foreign Office officials were watching Mr Johal’s situation ‘with concern.’
Dozens of Sikhs from across the country descended on Parliament this morning to lobby their MP over Mr Johal’s plight. They then proceeded to observe proceedings from the public gallery in the House of Commons which this morning included Foreign and Commonwealth Questions. During Question Time, Mr Johal’s MP, Martin Docherty, asked the Foreign Secretary about what discussions he has had with India over their human rights record in the state of the Punjab, critically in relation to Jagtar Singh’s situation. Foreign Office minister Rory Stewart replied, saying that Mr Johal’s detention was being taken ‘very seriously, adding: ‘We take any allegation of torture seriously […] it is completely unconstitutional, it’s offensive to the British government […] and of course we will take extreme action if a British citizen is being tortured.’ See this on video here.
Following Question Time, Mr Docherty MP hosted a meeting in Parliament with Preet Gill MP, Gurpreet Singh (brother of Jagtar Singh), Tan Dhesi MP and members of various Sikh organisations along with the #FreeJaggiNow campaign leads. At the meeting Martin Docherty said that he would be meeting Mark Field, the Foreign Office minister with responsibility for India, next week to discuss Jagtar Singh’s case.
Addressing the gathered Sikhs, Gurpreet Singh, Jagtar’s brother, said, ‘Thank you to everybody from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and my family in these circumstances. Mahraaj gave me this seva to lead this campaign, but it is only with the power of the sangat that we have been able to pressure the British government over Jaggi’s case.’
Jas Singh, advisor to the Sikh Federation, remarked on the growing campaign, ‘This momentum is snowballing globally. Now Jagtar Singh is known worldwide. It is a travesty that in 2017, a country that calls itself the world’s largest democracy can abduct, detain, and torture a British citizen. There is no faith in the police or judicial process in India: a violation of Jagtar’s rights is a violation of all of our rights.’
Sikh MPs Preet Gill and Tan Dhesi also contributed, stressing the need for Jagtar Singh’s human rights to be upheld and appealing for concerned individuals and families to contact their MP about Jagtar Singh’s case.
Gurpreet Singh and representatives from the #FreeJaggiNow campaign are currently meeting with officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Offices.
An update on this will follow.
Protest in Australia continues to show worldwide Sikh support for #FreeJaggiNow
A Melbourne city centre protest by members of the Sikh community in front of the Indian consulate continued the trend of international support for Jagtar Singh.
The Scotland born Sikh has been held by Punjab police and reporting torture for 17 days now, all without an official charge or any legal documents naming him in relation to a criminal case. During this period Sikhs have protested in countries afar as India, Australia, Canada, USA, Italy, Malaysia and further, demonstrating concern and angst at the treatment of Jagtar Singh.
See images of the latest protest in Melbourne here.
Jagtar Singh Johal: Mastermind of killings or Punjab government’s NRI scapegoat? – News Laundry Article
Every time I sat down to pen this piece, I was stopped by a voice within. It shouted to me:
“You will be labelled a Khalistani. You will be abused, slandered and trolled by thousands. Your loyalties will be questioned, upbringing will be targeted and you might even be threatened with murder.”
I finally stood up and shouted back…
Read full post here.
Video of Indian police torture goes viral, whilst more historic accounts of British Sikhs detained without evidence shared
A video shared on twitter by Kesri Lehar of Scotland highlighted a recorded example of Indian police torture in action.
The video – which whilst having only a few RTs has been shared to hundreds via whatsapp – shows Indian police holding a man in custody whilst another officer beats him with a stick. Some members of the Sikh community described this as “mild” in discussion with Sikh PA, in comparison to other methods of torture used by the infamous Punjab Police, who have a track record of torture, documented by the Punjab human rights committee.
The video has only added to the concern of the Sikh community and human rights advocates in regards to Jagtar Singh’s detainment without charge by the Punjab police.
Meanwhile, Sikh humanitarian organisation shared a case dealt with by their SOPW project (Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare) from 2006 where a Sikh British national was held for months and tortured, before the case went to trial where it was dismissed for a lack of evidence. See more here.
UK Prime Minister says government are “watching with concern”
Therese May today spoke of being “aware of the concern” regarding the Jagtar Singh case, today aired on the BBC Asian Network.
May, current Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, stated Foreign and Commonwealth Office representatives have met with Jagtar Singh and are “pursuing the case…and watching what is happening with concern”.
Hear the report here.
“MPs to demand answers” from Boris Johnson regarding Jagtar Singh case
A Sikh Federation UK press release today stated that UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is “expected to get a rough ride” as he answers questions for an hour in the House of Commons.
The statement is based on the fact that over 200 MPs have been pressed by constituents to forward concern about the Jagtar Singh case. Tuesday, 21 November, will see a day of lobbying in parliament by supports of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign.
Read the full press release here.
Jagtar Singh lawyer rebuts Punjab Police statement on torture
Following a Punjab Police statement on the allegations of torturing Jagtar Singh, the lawyer of the 30 year old Scotsman questioned “why the police opposed the request for his independent medical”.
Jaspal Singh, who is representing Jagtar Singh, also called suggestions made by Punjab Police that Jagtar was involved in terrorism “mere allegations”, before providing historical accounts when such suggestions against Sikh activists had previously come to nothing.
Read the full article via Sikh Siyasat News here.
Jagtar Singh remand in police custody extended for five days
Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign were today further disappointed at the news that Jagtar Singh’s stay in police custody was extended by a judge for a further five days.
On 17 November Jagtar Singh was told in Bagha Purana court, Moga (Punjab, India) that he would be placed in judicial custody following a plea by his team, where it is deemed there is less chance of torture. However, immediately after the court hearing Ludhiana police took Jagtar Singh to the HOUSE of two different judges, in order to have him placed back into their custody, based on an FIR (First Incident Report) which did not name him.
Now Sikh Siyasat News have revealed through their sources on the ground in Punjab that Jagtar Singh was today placed before a magistrate court judge in Ludhiana (a district of Punjab) where his stay in remand under police custody was extended for another five days.
Jagtar Singh is next scheduled to appear in court on 30 November.
Indian celebrity tweets #FreeJaggiNow to 3million followers
Diljit Dosanjh, famed Punjabi singer/actor and one of the biggest names in Indian showbiz, today tweeted his support for the #FreeJaggiNow to his 3.01million followers.
The continuing growth of awareness adds to the pressure on the Punjab Police to actually officially place a charge on Jagtar Singh or release him.
Lobby of parliament day announced
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign team have announced a day to lobby parliament, taking place on 21 November.
A call to use the green card system in central lobby, following an opportunity to see Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson challenged directly in the House of Commons, was announced this evening. The leads of the campaign along with members of Jagtar Singh’s family will then address the public at a committee room meeting in parliament.
See full details via the images below.
UFC Fighter lends support to #FreeJaggiNow campaign
Arjan Singh Bhullar, the first Sikh and South Asian to fight in the UFC, the world’s premiere MMA organisation, lent his support to the #FreeJaggiNow campaign.
Arjan Singh shared the message via Twitter and is look to connect with the Sikh community of the UK when he arrives in the nation next week, where he is doing a promotional tour.
Sikh American Humanitarian highlights “suspicious” nature of latest Jagtar accusation
In order to put Jagtar Singh back in police custody, as opposed to judicial custody, Ludhiana police report an FIR (First Incident Report), which does not name Jagtar Singh, is linked to the Scotsman in relation to the murder of a Christian pastor in July this year.
Jasjit Singh Dhanoa a Sikh American that works for Humanitarian Sikh legal aid charity Ensaaf called this “suspicious” based on the fact the RSS, a Hindutva nationalist organisation on many extremist watch-lists across the world, have been threatening Christians in India.
Writer says detainment of Jagtar Singh “shows why Khalistan remains a powerful idea” for Sikhs
Sunny Hundal, a journalist known to cover Sikh community issues, stated even though he is personally against the idea of a separate state for Sikhs, the fact that “no minority in India is treated fairly” adds “strength” to support for Khalistan.
Hundal, who has written for the Hindustan Times, Independent and many other mainstream media outlets, stated that Khalistan is not about “Sikh theocracy” but about “Sikh dignity”, whilst also appealing to Hindus to speak out about injustice against Sikhs to prevent fracturing India.
Read the full post here.
BREAKING – Reports state Jagtar Singh back in police custody
Just hours after the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) stated a decision to move Jagtar Singh out of police custody would “hopefully” end his torture, reports from India claim the 30 year old has now been moved back into police custody.
The move is alleged to have happened straight after a court decision was made to move Jagtar Singh into judicial custody, rather than police custody. Upon leaving the court, Ludhiana Police took Jagtar Singh to the homes of two judges to approval bringing the Scotsmen back into police custody. This was done because courts were closed due to the time of day, showing just how desperate Ludhiana Police were to have Jagtar Singh in police custody. The justification for doing so is relating to an apparently new – but still unofficial – link to a crime, (FIR 218/17 – further detailed in the link below), which once again, does not officially mention Jagtar Singh (searchable here http://22.214.171.124:1111/FIR/firfilestatus.jsf?name=LUDHIANA%20CITY).
The original decision to remove him from police custody was made before British High Commission representatives in attendance at Bagha Purana magistrate court (Moga, Punjab) and was welcomed by many. The reversal of this decision is already being deemed an underhanded move by Punjab Police. Full story by Sikh Siyasat here.
Medical to examine reports of torture DENIED by Indian court, who instead extend remand
A British High Commission (BHC) supported request for Jagtar Singh to receive an independent medical examination to look into reports he was being tortured was rejected this morning by Bagha Purana Judicial Magistrate court in Punjab, India.
Whilst a request for the medical will be made again, many supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign stated the rejection of it, coupled with the fact Jagtar Singh’s time on remand has been extended until his next scheduled court appearance on November 30th, allows time for injuries sustained to heal and therefore remove evidence of torture.
See more information on this from Sikh Siyasat News here.
Jagtar Singh removed from police custody, SFUK state this will “hopefully” end torture
The Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) welcomed the news that Jagtar Singh will be removed from police custody and moved into judicial custody, stating “hopefully” this will end his torture.
Jagtar Singh will remain in jail for judicial custody until November 30th, although location of where he is being held is still being kept secret. British/Scottish governments were asked to do “much more” by SFUK in a press release, which you can see here.
The 30 year old Scottish Sikh was denied a new set of clothes provided by his in-laws, whilst Punjab Police also took away the contact details he was given from the British High Commission (BHC) preventing Jagtar Singh from summoning them for legal representation when required, and instead forcing him to rely on their continued presence.
The Sikh Federation also stated that Boris Johnson will be challenged directly on the situation when he next appears in the House of Commons, thought to be Tuesday.
Punjabi locals supporting #FreeJaggiNow through social media arrested
Reports from Punjab state a Sikh man was arrested for posting #FreeJaggiNow on his Facebook profile.
A report from the Punjab Shield news outlet, states a Bhupinder Singh was arrested on November 16th for being “part of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign. Bhupinder Singh Budhsinghwala had a public message on social media Facebook” (roughly translated into English) which suggested a British national should be at the court hearing.
Further reports of others being arrested, harassed and intimidated for supporting the #FreeJaggiNow in Punjab have been forwarded to the Sikh Press Association from contacts on the ground.
Canadian MPs add pressure on Foreign Office to investigate torture
The likes of Jagmeet Singh, leader of the NDP, Raj Grewal of the Liberal Party and current Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan joined the growing list of people urging a serious inquiry into reports of the torture of Jagtar Singh.
Foreign Office reps meet with #FreeJaggiNow campaigners during protest
“The FCO acknowledged they have not been fulfilling their role”
Hundreds of Sikhs from across the UK and from afar as Cyprus came together for a #FreeJaggiNow protest outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) today, resulting in an impromptu meeting between campaigners and FCO reps.
Jas Singh, advisor to the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK), was part of a 90 minute, along with Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF) and Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh.
“In this meeting we discussed a number of things to understand the dynamics of this case. The FCO acknowledged they have not been fulfilling their role thus far.
“The key thing discussed was the report of torture and how that will transit into action from the FCO. It was stressed this came from Jagtar Singh’s lawyer who spoke with Jagtar directly. We made the FCO aware that the longer Jagtar Singh stays in custody, the greater risk there is to his life.
“A medical examination by the British High Commission was requested and it is hoped this will be granted by the judge at Jagtar Singh’s court hearing tomorrow.
“We expressed that attendance from the FCO at the court hearing is imperative, especially because the reason for the extension of remand for Jagtar Singh was due to a lack of clarity around his passport, to establish him as a British citizen. The FCO stated they have provided the Punjab Police with the means to acquire the passport.
“The FCO also confirmed there is no charge that has been registered with them for Jagtar Singh from Indian authorities, nor has there ever been any inquiry about him. They are as much in the dark as we are. There is no case around this, just an attempt to intimidate a Sikh human rights activist.”
“We pressed that non-attendance would be unacceptable at tomorrow’s court hearing. A senior consular officer has now been given the case and been fully briefed on the situation, as has UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. The FCO have said a supervisor and their human rights lawyer will remain in direct contact with us.”
The protest saw approximately 400 Sikhs standing outside the FCO headquarters, holding aloft placards, handing out leaflets on the situation and chanting slogans including “FCO – DO YOUR JOB” and “FREE JAGGI NOW”, referencing Jagtar Singh’s nickname, Jaggi.
Shamsher Singh of the NSYF said of the meeting with FCO reps, “They let us know they have been contacted from all over the world about Jagtar Singh’s case, demonstrating the impact of the sangat (Sikh congregation) supporting the campaign.
“The FCO are fully aware of how much the Sikh community is behind this campaign. The media articles, the emails, the letters, the tweets – they’ve been taking in all of it. They understand the sentiment of the Sikh community and I think that’s why they were able to understand this is all tied to deep traumas we have historically suffered at the hands of the Indian state.”
“It felt like my Guru was with me”
Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh, thanked the sangat that attended, including those who arrived in coaches driving overnight from Scotland as well as one individual flying in from Cyprus for the protest.
“With the sangat’s presence today, it felt like my Guru was with me. I want to thank everyone who is standing with me and my family in this situation. However, I humbly request all to recognise that this is not over, we have to keep fighting for Jaggi until we see him home and safe.”
“Do not support petitions and fundraisers” for #FreeJaggiNow campaign
Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh, warned Sikhs of signing any petitions or contributing to any fundraisers on behalf of the campaign.
“Please do not support any petitions or fundraisers. We do not know who has started the petitions and we do not know where the money being asked for is going. We have made it clear we do not need money at this stage of the case. If the need comes, we will openly tell the sangat.”
Celebrities boost campaign with support
Awareness around the #FreeJaggiNow campaign has received a huge boost in recent days with tweets from the likes of famed rapper and activist Akala, best selling poet Rupi Kaur and others from the bhangra industry such as Jaz Dhami and Jazzy B.
Jasveer Singh of the Sikh Press Association said, “The Sikh community are grateful that those in the public eye are stepping forward to highlight this issue of human rights. Through their social media presence, many celebrities simply have a bigger platform than even many mainstream media outlets can offer. As such, it is definitely a boost for the awareness side of the campaign to see celebrities tweeting about the #FreeJaggiNow campaign to hundreds of thousands of followers.”
Jagtar Singh’s local MP asks parliament if Foreign Office can look into his situation
In a point of order this afternoon Dumbarton MP Martin Docherty asked for a ministerial statement on his constituent Jagtar Singh Johal’s detention and torture in Punjab, which the Speaker said ‘could happen’ but warned of the feasibility of this approach for every troubled Briton overseas.
Journalist with 35 years experience covering Punjab stories says Jagtar Singh case is not convincing
Senior AAP leader and Kharar MLA, Kanwar Sandhu has expressed doubts over the veracity of police claims of the involvement of Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi, a British national, in targeted killings in Punjab and has demanded that the Union government should intervene and a joint inquiry with the UK police should be conducted in the case. Full story here.
1000 Sikhs expected at London #FreeJaggiNow protest
FCO on allegations of torture:
A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said:
“We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action as appropriate. When considering how to act, we will avoid any action that might put the individual in question or any other person that may be affected at risk.”
Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation and one of the leads of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign stated “Jagtar Singh is already being tortured. The point of worrying about putting him at risk has long since passed. The situation warrants immediate intervention by in order to show any value for British Sikh community concerns.”
Jagtar Singh being tortured states only person to speak with him since detainment
Today at Jagtar Singh’s third court appearance to further extend his time on remand, defence council legal advocate Jaspal Singh who is the only person to have spoken directly with him since his detainment, stated he has been “physically and mentally tortured”.
Jaspal Singh went on to specify that, “His legs were forcibly stretched to the point of tearing, and he has been electrocuted on his nipples, ears and penis.”
The statement was made to media outside Bagha Purana Judicial court, where the 30 year old from Dumbarton was taken for the third extension on his time in remand, now extended for a further three days.
Jagtar Singh’s court appearance was worrying for his supporters, as he was surrounded by armed police and had his face covered.
“The face covering is a tactic to hide that Jagtar Singh has been gagged, so he can’t speak out to the cameras recording. This is common treatment for people being detained by Punjab police” stated Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation, one of the leading campaigners of the #FreeJaggiNow movement.
Investigative journalist team discover still no FIR for Jagtar Singh
The Sikh Siyasat team found Punjab Police have purposely left out the FIR (First Incident Report) sheet for the arrest of Jagtar Singh from their official online database.
Earlier this week Gurpreet Singh, Jagtar Singh’s brother, stated that Jagtar Singh was not even named on any legal documents needed for his arrest. See full report from Sikh Siyasat here.
Sikh MP writes directly to Boris Johnson
The Sikh community are awaiting a response from Boris Johnson following Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi writing to him about the case of Jagtar Singh. See more information on this here.
Confession by known Punjab gangster leaves authorities red-faced regarding Jagtar Singh link
Saraj Sandhu, a well known gangster in Punjab currently on the run from state police, not only admitted to killing Hindu Sangharsh Sena leader Vipan Sharma, but even suggested that the “killing should not be linked to religion”.
This news comes after Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh shockingly suggested eight murders were solved on the back of the detainment of Jagtar Singh and three others, without a formal charge let alone a trial taking place. See full story here.
Statement from the family of Jagtar Singh
A statement from the family of Jagtar Singh regarding his detainment by Indian authorities cleared asked those supporting their campaign to free him to continue raising awareness on social media and reach out to MPs to address the situation too. Read the full statement here.
More facts point to Indian authorities breaking due process with Jagtar’s arrest
Campaigners working for Jagtar Singh’s freedom have pointed out that an alleged FIR (First Incident Report) which links Jagtar Singh to criminal activity in 2016 in India was not brought up during a visit to India by the Scotsman in April of this year. The fact that the FIR has also not been seen by any of the legal team on Jagtar Singh’s side also points to serious discrepancies in the process of the arrest of Jagtar, leading to many including Gurpreet Singh, the brother of Jagtar and a solicitor, calling it “illegal”.
Campaigners have also pointed out that;
- Jagtar Singh has only been to India three times in his entire life (twice in 2017 for a wedding and once in 2009), leaving lots of questions about how involved he could have been in any of the alleged criminal activity.
- Captain Amarinder, Chief Minister of Punjab, outrageously claimed eight murders had been solved upon the arrest of Jagtar Singh and three others, without any charge being officially leveled at him, let alone a trial.
- There is still yet no clarity on the exact charges Jagtar Singh is being accused of, no access to the British High Commission of India to speak with Jagtar Singh, no FIR (First Incident Report) shown to any of Jagtar Singh’s family or legal representatives to show why he was even arrested.
This information has led to very serious concerns about the intentions of the Punjab Police and Indian authorities in arresting him and keeping him on remand for so long.
Lord Singh and Sikh MPs push for Foreign Office intervention
Calls for UK authorities to intervene in the situation regarding Scottish born Sikh Jagtar Singh’s detainment by the Punjab police were yesterday reinforced by two Sikh MPs and Lord Singh.
The Network of Sikh Organisations, a group headed up by Lord Singh, called the Indian state’s behaviour “gangster-like” and stated Lord Singh of Wimbledon will be writing to the Foreign Office (FO). The full statement can be read here.
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, MP for Slough, stated on his Twitter feed he has been in touch with the FO as well as the High Commission of India UK. Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston, also stated she was working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs and various other MPs to address the issue.
British High Commission denied seeing Jagtar Singh
On 10 November, as per Sikh Federation UK sources, Jagtar Singh was placed on extended remand at a court appearance in Baghapurana, Moga. Jagtar Singh himself was not seen in court, nor was any legal representative of his to object the extension. Despite requests made from the UK, a British High Commission representative was also “denied” from appearing in court. As of yet, no charge sheet has yet been issued to clarify why Jagtar Singh has been arrested.
The Sikh Relief – Sikh Organisation for Prisoner Welfare (SOPW) group, released the following statement about the arrest on 10 November;
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the arrest of Jagtar Singh. I am deeply concerned for Jagtar’s safety and when hearing from his family, about the manner in which he was detained, it was almost identical to how I was arrested in 1999 during a routine family visit to India. I know all too well the complexities and failings of the Indian legal system having established SOPW after my own illegal arrest and false imprisonment many years ago.
I have personally reached out to his family and our team is on standby. We have extended to them our full support in a legal, financial and moral capacity should they need it. SOPW is always there to address relief needs of Sikh political prisoners and to provide intervention and oversight in legal proceedings which are severely susceptible to corruption and abuse given the culture of impunity that exists”.
Original article on the Jagtar Singh case
Members of the British Sikh community have urged the British government to intervene in the case of Jagtar Singh of Dumbarton, who was “illegally detained” last week in Punjab, India.
In a press release, the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) Chair Bhai Amrik Singh stated, “Punjab police are notorious for their brutality and use of torture during interrogation to extract information or obtain false confessions.
“Given some of the media reports we are disturbed by the lack of urgency and action taken by the British High Commission in both Delhi, the mission in Chandigarh and the Foreign Office in London. They have failed to make contact with senior police officers to ensure the safety and well-being of this young British man.”
*Note – since this statement was made the Foreign Office and Jagtar Singh’s local MP have made statements, as can be seen below.
30-year old Jagtar Singh Johal travelled to Punjab with his father and two brothers, on October for his wedding. Jagtar Singh had been to India earlier this year without issue. Jagtar Singh is known among the Sikh community for highlighting issues around the Sikh genocide of 1984. SFUK have been in contact with UK governmental offices regarding the issue.
“My brother was not even named on the warrant or charge sheet”
According to the SFUK press release on 3 November, Jagtar Singh “was accosted, a sack thrown over his head, and he was forced into a van by men dressed in plain clothes”. In a press conference after the arrests, sources stated Punjab police mentioned that Jagtar Singh was known for “running a magazine”, whilst Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, also singled out Jagtar Singh’s arrest.
Gurpreet Singh Johal, the elder brother of Jagtar Singh, said, “Unless the British authorities quickly step in, this will guarantee a law-abiding British citizen will be illegally detained for some time and will not receive a fair trial. He should be immediately released and returned to the UK.
“My brother was not even named on the police First Information Request (FIR) equivalent of a warrant or charge sheet. This raises further questions that his detention is opportunist and the absence of any evidence against my brother.”
Only after two days were the family of Jagtar Singh made aware he had been arrested, when he was presented in court and put on remand. Whilst Indian media such as the Times of India, NDTV and more, have reported Jagtar Singh was one of four people arrested in connection with targeted killings in Punjab, many members of the Sikh community feel as an activist, he is being framed. The fact there was no attempt from the Indian authorities to coordinate with their British counterparts to arrest Jagtar Singh, both when he was in the UK and now he is in India, is an issue of concern to members of the Sikh community, who have previously seen many diaspora activists arrested and tortured when going to India.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson stated on the issue, “We are in contact with the family of a British man who has been detained in India. Our staff are in contact with the Indian authorities regarding his case.”
The family of Jagtar Singh have complained of harassment and intimidation from the Punjab police, with an attempt made to seize the British passports of Jagtar Singh’s immediate family. Whilst Jagtar Singh’s family from Scotland are now back in the UK, his Punjab based family have had to go into hiding to avoid the targeted intimidation they face from Punjab police.
MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, of Jagtar Singh’s home town Dumbarton, stated on the issue, “I am deeply concerned about the circumstances of Jagtar Singh Johal’s arrest and imprisonment in India. This has been an extremely distressing time for my constituent’s family and I am doing everything in my power to support them as their Member of Parliament.
“The lack of information being given to Jagtar’s family by the police and judicial authorities in Delhi following his arrest is alarming. I have raised this as a matter of urgency with the British High Commission of India and the Foreign Office.
“I will also be contacting the Foreign Secretary and the Scottish Government to ensure that Jagtar and his family are not unfairly mistreated by the Indian authorities. This is an extremely serious matter and I hope my constituents will be fully supported in their efforts to secure a positive outcome.”
The Sikh Press Association will be and providing continual updates on this story.