Cuffs arrest

Latest updates of British Sikh man tortured and detained in Indian jail without evidence for over a year

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. He has reported torture and is seen as the latest in a long line of Sikh activists targeted by the Indian state. He has STILL not received an independent medical, nor a private meeting with the British consulate. Learn more from our timeline below.

 

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. The case of Jagtar Singh is widely seen within the Sikh community as a continuing trend of Indian authorities, which sees them use the law to detain and quieten dissenters of the state. For further information, or for comment from members of the Sikh community/interview opportunities, email Jasveer@SikhPA.com.

 

 


 

15.12.18

No evidence against Jagtar Singh revealed in 11th trial hearing

Jagtar Singh was ordered to be present at his 11th trial hearing. However, just as he was about to be brought Moga Court, a Punjab Police officer from Bagha Purana Police station called the jails of Jagtar Singh and the co-accused and instructed the jailor not to present Jagtar Singh and the co-accused in court.

Three prosecution witnesses were presented in court but the judge refused to hear their evidence before finding out where Jagtar Singh and the co-accused were. The judge established that one officer had called all four jails and instructed the jailors not the present the accused in person, but via video link instead.

Two of the witnesses were cross examined by the defence and once again they revealed no evidence against Jagtar Singh.

The judge ordered the officer who instructed the jailors to come to court and explain why he disobeyed court ordered that the co-accused should be presented in court.

The Free Jaggi Now campaign said: ‘Today it has been proved that officials in Bagha Purana Police station are deliberately dictating when and where Jaggi and other co-accused will be presented or not.

‘One thing is clear, the pressure from you, the Sangat and community is working, for the first time in 13 months the judge has summoned officials to be present and state why they have went against court orders.’

 


 

14.12.18

Jagtar Singh not presented at 66th pre-trial preliminary hearing

Punjab Police have once again failed to comply with a court order to present Jagtar Singh at his 66th pre-trial preliminary hearing. As a result, the judge has adjourned the hearing until 21st December, where all accused should be presented.

 


 

10.12.18

Sikh prisoner in jail that held Jagtar Singh dies

A 23 year old Sikh prisoner in a high security jail that held Jagtar Singh has died, apparently after suffering seizures.

Sukhpreet Singh died on Sunday after being taken to a hospital from Nabha maximum security jail following what jail officials described as seizures. An initiated Sikh, he was taken to the jail in 2017 after being detained for ‘unlawful activities’. It has been reported that a post-mortem has been conducted, but the reports have not been released.

The death comes months after the death of Harminder Singh Mintoo, an inmate in Patiala jail, allegedly from cardiac arrest. It will only raise further questions about the treatment of Sikh prisoners in Punjab’s jails and the very possible case that such deaths have followed torture. British citizen Jagtar Singh has detailed how he was tortured by electrocution by Punjab Police when he was detained in November 2017.

 

 


 

 

27.11.18

Jagtar Singh Johal discussed in Parliamentary Debate

Today, MPs discussed the detention and torture of Jagtar Singh Johal in a House of Commons debate called by his constituency MP Martin Docherty-Hughes.

Several MPs expressed concern that the Foreign Secretary had still not met with either Jaggi’s family or his MP. The Foreign Office Minister Mark Field was in attendance, and replied on behalf of the government saying that he would make representations to Jeremy Hunt.

You can read a full report of the debate here and watch the entire debate here.

 


26.11.18

Statement on Matthew Hedges’ release from #FreeJaggiNow campaign

Earlier today (26.11.18) overseas British prisoner Matthew Hedges was pardoned from his imprisonment just one week after being convicted as a spy and handed a life sentence last in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This came after intervention from the Foreign Office and British consulate, as emphasised by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a public statement.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt is yet to even name Jagtar Singh Johal, British Sikh political prisoner, who has been detained in India for over one year now, and has completely ignored requests to meet Jagtar Singh’s family. This situation prompted public outcry against Hunt’s contrasting treatment to Jagtar Singh and his family.

Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh, a lead of the Free Jaggi Now, reacted to the Matthew Hedges’ release in regards to his own brother’s situation in a statement you can read here.


25.11.18

Jagtar Singh’s detainment discussed on BBC Radio 4

The detainment and torture of Jagtar Singh was discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

His brother Gurpreet Singh spoke about how his brother was abducted in India following his wedding last year and how no evidence of any crime has been presented against him in court.

Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said: ‘Over the last year my constituent has been subject to trial by media. The state authorities have made publicly that they are convinced of a guilt. Over the last – now over – a year, the Indian state authorities have failed to deliver on that and the UK government really needs to tackle that head on by calling it out.’ 

He also mentioned the Foreign Secretary’s refusal to meet him or Jagtar Singh’s family, and warned that it undermined parliamentary convention for Jeremy Huny to continue to do so.

You can listen to the segment from 36 minutes in here

 


 

22.11.18

Adjournment debate on arrest and detention of Jagtar Singh announced

Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has secured an adjournment debate on Tuesday 27th November regarding the condition of his detained constituent.

He said that in the debate he will be ‘holding the government to account on its record of involvement in the case and seeking clarification as to how it hopes to assist my constituent – a son of the rock of Dumbarton – in making sure he has access to a fair and transparent trial when it occurs.’

 


 

 

20.11.18

Pressure on Scottish Deputy First Minister to raise Jagtar Singh during upcoming India visit

There is pressure on Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney to raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, who is from Dumbarton, during his upcoming visit to India. Mr Swinney will visit India from 23rd – 29th November when he will visit New Delhi and Bengaluru alongside a delegation of senior leaders from Scotland’s higher education sector. Sir Simon McDonald, Head of the Diplomatic Service and Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office, failed to raise Jagtar Singh during his visit to India earlier this year. Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign are hoping that another dignitary doesn’t ignore the plight of this British citizen.

 


 

 

17.11.18

Witnesses present no evidence against Jagtar Singh in 9th trial hearing

Jagtar Singh was presented for his 9th trial hearing via video conferencing at Moga Court as the Punjab Police once again failed to present him in person.

Five witnesses were presented by the prosecution, two of whom were not cross-examined as the prosecution no longer relied on them. Another was Jagtar Singh’s arresting officer on 4th November 2017. He confirmed that there has been no evidence found against Jagtar Singh during his investigations. The other two witnesses had nothing to say regarding Jagtar Singh.

 


 

 

16.11.18

63rd pre-trial preliminary hearing delayed

Today Jagtar Singh was scheduled to be taken to Faridkot, Punjab for his 63rd pre-trial preliminary hearing. Once again, the judge granted a further adjournment until 30th November 2018. Punjab Police continue to not present Jagtar Singh, with the judge repeatedly granting adjournments to waste time.

 


 

14.11.18

One year since Jagtar Singh informed his lawyer of his torture

Today marks one year since Jagtar Singh told his lawyer of his physical torture at the hands of the Punjab Police. He said that this occurred during the first four days of his detention at an undisclosed location. Earlier this year, Jagtar Singh repeated this in a handwritten note to consular services, going into more detail about the nature of the torture.

REDRESS – a charity that works for torture survivors – issued a statement saying that ‘India must stop ignoring its international obligations and urgently investigate the alleged torture of Jagtar Singh.’

https://redress.org/news/jagtar-singh-johal-one-year-on-india-still-failing-to-respond-to-torture-allegations/

An urgent appeal was made by three high level United Nations experts on 29th January 2018, which the Indian government has still not responded to. 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.’

 

Jagtar Singh’s 62nd pre-trial preliminary hearing adjourned until 6th December

Today’s hearing in Mohali saw the judge adjourn proceedings until 6th December following a ‘stay’ being placed by the Supreme Court in Delhi.

It appears as if India’s National investigation Agency (NIA) has appealed to the Supreme Court in Delhi to transfer all cases to Delhi. It has been over a year since Jagtar Singh was detained and since then no evidence has been presented against him.

The Free Jaggi Now Campaign said: ‘It appears the NIA are aware they have pushed the Mohali court judge too far and are seeking to remove the cases from his court and do not wish for him to give out any more decisions during proceedings. The NIA claim to be the elite investigation agency of India and they have not even managed to file one competent application in court.’

 

Jagtar Singh discussed at mass Sikh lobby in Parliament 

A mass Sikh lobby was held in the Parliament of the United Kingdom today, where several MPs spoke on the case of Jagtar Singh Johal. A full account of the lobby, including the many concerns raised by MPs over the conduct of the Indian authorities can be found here.

 


 

 

07.11.18

Jagtar Singh sends message on occasion of Bandhi Chhor Divas

Today Jagtar Singh marked Bandhi Chhor Divas by issuing the following statement:

 ‘For centuries we have been oppressed and we have never bowed to tyrannical empires. For as long as we have the ability to fight back we will challenge the darkness and keep the fire burning.’

Bandhi Chhor Divas literally translates to ‘Prisoner Release Day’ and is what Sikhs celebrate on the day of Diwali. This is the occasion of the return of the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, who was freed from imprisonment in 1619. Guru Ji arrived home to his followers around the time of Diwali, which has long been a national holiday in India. You can read more about Bandhi Chhor Divas here

 


 

 

3.11.18

8th trial hearing in Jaggi case: No defendants and no witnesses once again

Jaggi was scheduled to appear at Bagha Purana court in Moga today for his 8th trial hearing. Once again Punjab police failed to take Jaggi to attend this hearing ahead of the sitting judge.

During this hearing none of the accused were presented and the judge failed to question why none of the accused were presented. Furthermore, the prosecution failed to present any witness for the 7th hearing out of 8 so far and once again the judge was satisfied with this outcome and adjourned the hearing to next take place on 17 November 2018.

It is becoming more and more clear the sitting judge has accepted this recurring theme of not presenting the accused and the failure to present any witnesses is going to be a continuous trend and therefore he will happily accept a pay check for doing zero work and adjourn hearings.

 


 

01.11.18

60th preliminary pre-trial hearing adjourned

Jagtar Singh’s 60th preliminary pre-trial hearing was at Mohali today. The NIA have delayed providing prosecution witness statements to the defence for months. The courts have entertained the constant adjournment requests which has delayed matters further.

Today was no different: the judge was supposed to give his decision after hearing arguments two weeks ago but once again he has adjourned the hearing. The #FreeJaggiNow campaign hope that a decision will be provided on Monday 5th November 2018.

 


 

28.10.18

Preparations underway to mark one year since Jagtar Singh was detained 

Sunday 4th November will mark exactly one year since Jagtar Singh was abducted by Punjab Police. Jagtar Singh’s family will be holding a programme at their local gurdwara to pray for the well-being of Jaggi and the countless Sikh political prisoners who are detained without any evidence and are being mistreated for being a minority.

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It will be held at the Central Gurdwara Glasgow from 8.30am until 1.30pm featuring Sikh prayers, devotional music and an educational talk.

There will also be an international social media event taking place, using the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow to raise awareness across the world:

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23.10.18

Jagtar Singh not presented at 59th preliminary pre-trial hearing

Jagtar Singh was not presented at his 59th preliminary pre-trial hearing in Faridkot today. As has been routine, the judge adjourned the hearing for 5th November.

The #FreeJaggiNow campaign said:

‘It is astonishing that Jaggi is repeatedly not presented at court and the judges take no action. There was a point when numerous Punjab police officers would be bringing Jaggi to court for his police remands. When it comes to producing Jaggi for the purposes of preparing a defence and defending himself, there are no Punjab police officers present to bring him to court.

It is clear the authorities have no evidence and are taking full advantage of delaying matters in hope of locating some form of evidence against Jaggi.’

 


 

 

20.10.18

No witnesses at 7th trial hearing

No witnesses were presented at Jagtar Singh’s 7th trial hearing today. The original citation for presenting witnesses was for a public holiday but although the trial hearing was re-scheduled, new citations for witnesses were not presented for today’s hearing. This had led the #FreeJaggiNow campaign to question whether there is collusion between the prosecution and the judge.

The next trial hearing will take place on 3rd November, the eve of the one year anniversary of Jagtar Singh’s abduction and detention by Punjab Police.

 


 

17.10.18

58th preliminary pre-trial hearing sees oral arguments heard

The 58th preliminary pre-trial hearing for Jagtar Singh took place in Mohali today. There, both the defence and prosecution made oral arguments relating to the non-disclosure of prosecution witness statements, which has been ongoing since May this year.

Jagtar Singh is yet to be formally charged.

The judge heard the arguments and then adjourned the hearing until 1st November for a decision.

 


 

 

11.10.18

Independent medical hearing delayed until January; no way to verify torture

Almost a year after his detainment and torture, the sitting judge did not allow an independent medical examination of Jagtar Singh to verify his torture claims. Instead, the hearing was adjourned until 14th January 2019.

The #FreeJaggiNow campaign have long maintained that this is a tactic to delay a medical examination long enough for any signs of torture to heal. Even if Jagtar Singh is granted an independent medical examination in January 2019, it will be more than 14 months after the torture he has outlined took place.


 

 

09.10.18

Sikh Federation Annual Report highlights media coverage of Jagtar Singh Johal 

The Sikh Federation UK have released their annual report, which this year documents the campaigning for Jagtar Singh and the #FreeJaggiNow campaign. The report says that the Sikh Federation ‘is demanding action from both the British and Scottish governments in ensuring his immediate release to prevent further torture and hardship’. It collates various pieces of media coverage of Jagtar Singh’s detainment, torture, and denial of justice over the past year, providing a valuable archive of British Sikh reaction to this case.

 

Two pre-trial hearings for Jagtar Singh with no progress in either

Jagtar Singh’s 56th preliminary pre-trial hearing took place in Mohali today. Two weeks ago the judge ordered India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to provide reasons for failing to disclose prosecution witness statements. The NIA presented two new applications for not disclosing the statements instead of the required oral arguments. The judge, in a predictable move, adjourned the hearing until 17th October.

However, Punjab Police failed to present him at his 57th pre-trial hearing in Faridkot. The judge simply pushed forward the date of the hearing by two weeks to 23rd October.

 


 

 

04.10.18

No evidence against Jagtar Singh in 6th trial hearing

Today marks 11 months since Jagtar Singh was detained by police in Punjab. He was presented via video-link to the court in Moga for his 6th trial hearing. At the hearing, a sub-inspector who was involved in the interrogation of the co-accused first arrest in the Bagha Purana case was presented in court. This witness confirmed during cross examination that the first co-accused did not disclose any names. The next hearing has been scheduled for 19th October.

 


 

 

30.10.18

Hundreds gather at Conservative Party Conference to demand action for Jagtar Singh

Hundreds of Sikhs from across the country descended on the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham city centre this afternoon to protest the lack of British government action for Jagtar Singh. To date, Jagtar Singh has not had private contact with British consular officials, nor has he received an independent medical examination to verify torture claims. Despite over 50 pre-trial hearings, and boasts from senior Punjab politicians many months ago, no evidence against Jagtar Singh has been presented.

 


 

 

25.09.18

54th pre-trial hearing ends with another adjournment 

Today was Jagtar Singh’s 54th pre-trial hearing in Mohali, Punjab. Yet again, the prosecution failed to present any witnesses. Another adjournment was asked for, which was granted by the judge until 9th October.

Commenting on this latest development, the #FreeJaggiNow campaign said: ‘It is rather concerning that whilst the Chief Minister of Punjab claimed to have “all evidence” against Jaggi and other co-accused on 7th November 2017, to date not one shed of evidence has been produced.’ 

 


 

 

24.09.18

Top lawyer to represent #FreeJaggiNow activists raided last week

Five #FreeJaggiNow activists, whose properties were raided by counter-terror police last week have enlisted top lawyer Gareth Pierce to represent them. Pierce is best known for her role in overturning the convictions of the Guilford Four.

Many Sikhs have said that the police in the UK was pressurised by Indian authorities to conduct these raids for political, rather than criminal, reasons. Concern was even expressed by Preet Kaur Gill, Britain’s first female Sikh MP and Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs. The National Sikh Youth Federation has expressed concerns that material seized, if shared with India, would endanger those in Punjab exposing human rights abuses. Pierce is expected to challenge the seizure of such material by police forces.

Lately there have been numerous concerns regarding quotes published in Indian media which name some of those raided and claim that they occurred because of contact between British police forces and Indian authorities.

 


 

23.09.18

#FreeJaggiNow Protest announced for Conservative Party Conference this Sunday

This evening, Jagtar Singh Johal’s brother gave an update alongside #FreeJaggiNow campaigner Jas Singh.

To date, Jagtar Singh has had 53 pre-trial hearings and a further 4 trial hearings during which no evidence of the allegations against him has been presented. Instead, India’s National Investigation Agency have been submitting incompetent applications to the judge, resulting in repeated judicial delays.

Jas Singh reminded everyone of the former Foreign Office minister Rory Stewart’s remarks that the government would take ‘extreme action’ if it transpired that Jagtar Singh had been tortured. ‘To date, we are still waiting for any action, let alone extreme action,’ he said.

Sikhs across the country were encouraged to write to their local MP, asking them to support Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes in securing a meeting with the Foreign Secretary. Neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Hunt have met with Jagtar Singh’s family in the over 300 days he has been detained in India.

The police raids of homes of Sikh activists this past week showed that the UK government gets involved when they feel like it, said Gurpreet Singh. They were ‘a desperate attempt to get something that they can use for Jaggi’s case’.

In light of all these developments, a request was made to all Sikhs across the country to attend a protest at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this Sunday.

‘This is your opportunity to challenge the government at their own stage and say “What action are you taking?” said Gurpreet Singh.

 

Full details:

#FreeJaggiNow and #5SinghsUK protest

Sunday 30th September 2018, 1pm – 3pm.

International Convention Centre

Broad Street

Birmingham

B1 2EA

 


 

20.09.18

5th trial hearing sees no progress for Jagtar Singh

Jagtar Singh was presented at his 5th trial hearing via video link to Moga Court today. As no witnesses were presented yet again, nothing further happened.

On 7th November 2017 the Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amrinder Singh, claimed to have all the evidence required in the case. Soon a year will have elapsed and yet no evidence has been presented.

 


 

 

16.09.18

Campaign launched for Sikhs to write to their local MP regarding Jagtar Singh

Sikhs are being encouraged to write to their local MP, giving support to Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty Hughes who is seeking engagement from the Foreign Secretary. Jeremy Hunt, just like his predecessor, has met with neither Jagtar Singh’s MP nor his family. The MP for West Dunbartonshire has petitioned the Foreign Office several times yet his correspondence has not been replied to.

A template of the letter that Sikhs can send to their local MP includes the line ‘I remain deeply concerned for the welfare of Jagtar Singh Johal.’

It goes on: ‘It is shocking that after 300+ days of incarceration in a foreign country, where his human rights have regularly been abused, the Foreign Secretary of the UK government is yet to meet Jagtar’s family or his MP.’

The letter asks MPs to write to the Foreign Secretary, and to contact Mr Docherty-Hughes to secure Jagtar Singh’s immediate release and return to the UK.

 

 


 

11.09.18

NIA seeks further delay after refusing to present evidence

Today Jagtar Singh was presented at his 52nd pre-trial hearing at Mohali court, where the NIA lawyers once again refused to answer the application for its missing evidence. The NIA lawyers submitted an incompetent response and sought a further two weeks to respond.

Despite being recognised as the elite investigative agency of India, the NIA has repeatedly shown its incompetency in court. The NIA lawyers still seek delays to prepare answers for a question they’ve had over five months to prepare for.

This is the third consecutive hearing in which the NIA lawyers have refused to hand over the evidence, and the third which has been adjourned at the request of the NIA.

The next hearing will be on 25th September, a date requested by the NIA lawyers.

 


 

 

07.09.18

Fourth trial hearing sees further delay after judge sides with prosecution again

Jagtar Singh was presented for his fourth trial hearing at Moga court via video link yesterday. Yet again, the prosecution failed to provide any witnesses for cross examination.

The sitting judge did not object to the delay and set the next hearing date to be 20th September with a smile. The judge did not express any condemnation of the prosecution, which has continuously failed to present witnesses thereby delaying the case for a fortnight at a time.

This conduct further highlights that Jagtar Singh’s right to a fair trial is not being met. At every hearing so far, the judge has sided with the prosecution, leading to the Free Jaggi Now campaign to call into doubt whether the case will ever come to an end for Jagtar Singh.

 


 

 

04.09.18

51st pre-trial hearing halted by ‘unprepared’ NIA lawyers

At Jagtar Singh’s 51st pre-trial hearing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) failed to disclose the witness statements it had previously withheld.

The hearing was farcical. As the defence lawyers started making their argument they were interrupted by NIA lawyers who claimed that they were unprepared for today’s hearing. They then requested an adjournment, which was granted by the judge without listen to the objections of the defence lawyers.

The next hearing will take place on Tuesday 11th September.

 


 

 

29.08.18

National Investigation Agency (NIA) refuses to disclose witness statements

Today Jagtar Singh was presented via video link to his 50th pre-trial preliminary hearing. The NIA refused to disclose missing witness statements when asked for them by the defence.

The defence team have submitted an application for the missing witness statements, with arguments for and against their release being heard on 4th September 2018. If the NIA does not disclose these missing statements they will have to make a valid arguments as to why they cannot be shared.

 


 

23.08.18

Prosecution ‘taking all those involved for fools’ says Jagtar Singh’s brother as no witnesses are presented in court for the THIRD time in a row

The third trial hearing for Jagtar Singh ended in an identical way to the first and second as yet again no witnesses were presented. The same happened on 26th July and 9th August, when it became clear that the no-show of supposed witnesses was a delaying tactic that had previously been employed by both the Punjab Police and India’s National Investigation Agency. Commenting on the latest delay tactic, Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh, said:

‘For the third time in a row the prosecution has failed to provide any witnesses. Yet they’ve had months to prepare and numerous opportunities to do so.  The fact is there are no witnesses. I’m tired of these tactics used by the prosecution to deceive the court and delay any meaningful process for my brother. They are making a mockery of the Indian judicial system, taking all those involved for fools. In the meantime, Jaggi languishes in jail.’

 


21.08.18

New judge, old tricks as Jagtar Singh’s hearing is yet again postponed

The replacement of Judge Anushal Berry did not stop the familiar practice of rescheduling Jagtar Singh’s 49th pre-trial hearing before any arguments were heard. New judge Nirbhow Gill rescheduled the hearing to 29th August.


 

17.08.18

#FreeJaggiNow campaign team concerned at unexplained change of judge

After nine months of NIA (National Investigation Agency) hearings, the notorious agency has transferred all cases – including Jagtar Singh’s – from Judge Anushal Berry to Judge Nirbhow Singh Gill.

This transfer comes at a critical point in Jagtar Singh’s case and no explanation has been offered as to why this change has occurred. Jagtar Singh’s judicial journey has proved that the NIA holds total power over the courts. Several court orders were ignored by the NIA and the judge did not reprimand the agency.

Neither the Punjab Police nor the NIA have ever clarified why Jagtar Singh has been held. Several identical charge sheets have been submitted to courts naming him but without any evidence against Jagtar Singh in any case.

 


 

 

09.08.18

Second trial hearing rescheduled as delay tactics employed once again

Jagtar Singh was yet again denied due process today as the prosecution failed to present any witnesses for cross-examination in court. This led the judge to reschedule the hearing for two weeks’ time.

This was a repeat of his first hearing on 26th July, when the prosecution failed to provide any witnesses for cross-examination. Similar tactics have previously been employed by both the Punjab Police and India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) to frustrate and deny trial proceedings.

Following this news, the FreeJaggiNow campaign warned: ‘It took 6 months to present a charge sheet and a further 3 months later no trial has truly commenced. Using this as a guideline it could potentially be years before any outcome is reached for a single case.’ 

 


 

 

31.07.18

Free Jaggi Now campaign blasts the British government for being ‘complicit’ in Jagtar Singh’s suffering

Marking 270 days since Jagtar Singh’s detention, the #FreeJaggiNow campaign have issued the following statement condemning the lack of action from the British government. You can read the full statement here:

‘Jaggi gave a handwritten note to the UK government which detailed the physical torture he endured and the FCO had been in possession of this note since February and ignored it. Since being in possession of this note they have welcome numerous Indian diplomats and not once raised their concerns or tried to conduct their own investigation or push for an independent medical.

Until Jaggi is back with his family, the UK government continue to be complicit with all the suffering Jaggi endures and are just as guilty as India. It seems as if the Prime Minister has forgotten she has a duty to protect her citizens and she was trusted to lead this country towards a better future and not sacrifice our human and basic rights in return for financial gains.’

 


 

30.07.18

Two officers involved in Jagtar Singh’s mistreatment implicated in illegal drugs activities

Two of the Punjab police officers involved in the arrest and torture of Jagtar Singh are being investigates for drugs-related fraud. The Superintendent of Police (SSP) at Moga Raj Jit Hundal has been transferred by the Punjab government for allegedly being involved in the smuggling and distribution of drugs across Punjab. The allegations have also implicated Punjab’s Director of Police Suresh Arora, who was forced to comment on the situation. He branded it a ‘spiteful conspiracy’ and denied that Raj Jit Hundal was his blue-eyed boy.

 

 


 

26.07.2018

First trial hearing rescheduled as prosecution fails to provide witnesses 

The first trial hearing for Jagtar Singh today transpired to be nothing more than a sham as no arguments were heard. The hearing was highly anticipated, coming nearly nine months after his detention and after nearly 50 pre-trial hearings.

However the hearing ended when the prosecution was asked to present their witnesses for cross-examination but nobody had been brought to court. This was due to no citation being sent to any witness asking them to be present today.

This is a time-wasting technique that the Free Jaggi Now campaign have endured dozens of times. First employed by the Punjab Police and India’s National Investigation Agency, the prosecution team are using the same methods to stall any progress in the case and deny Jagtar Singh justice.

Jagtar Singh was not taken to court today but presented via video conference. The hearing has been rescheduled for 9th August 2018.


25.07.2018

First trial hearing set for Jagtar Singh

Jagtar Singh Johal’s legal team have been told they may finally hear what the Scottish Sikh will be put on trial for tomorrow at Moga district court.

Followers of the case will be keen to see what is presented at the first trial hearing tomorrow now after nine months of investigations since Jagtar Singh has been detained, not including the fact Punjab Chief Minister has stated the investigation has been ongoing for over a year prior to his arrest.

The trial relates to a charge-sheet filed by Bagha Parana police, based on an F.I.R (First Incident Report) which did not mention Jagtar Singh.

 


24.07.2018

Latest court hearing for Jagtar results in ANOTHER month long deferral

Punjab Police failed to present one of Jagtar Singh’s co-accused at today’s Mohali court hearing, resulting in it being rescheduled for August 21.

The move is once again being viewed as a continuing series of delay tactics, used to keep Jagtar Singh in detainment without any official charges being pressed, nor a trial being set.

A statement on the official Free Jaggi Now campaign Facebook page stated, ‘This is not the first time all of the co-accused have not been brought to court and the judge issues no warning to prevent this tactic being used again. The charge-sheet was filed in May after 6 months of “investigations” and has now been delayed by a further 3 months for the judge to decide whether or not the charges should be accepted.’

Supporters of the campaign continue to call for UK government intervention, whilst human rights advocacy organisation REDRESS have called for any evidence against Jagtar Singh to be dismissed until allegations of torture have been investigated.


23.07.2018

MP asks for new UK Foreign Secretary to fulfil promise to meet Jagtar Singh’s family

Jagtar Singh’s hometown MP of West Dunbartonshire has called for new Jeremy Hunt to fulfil the promise of his predecessor by meeting with the Scotsman’s family.

Martin Docherty-Hughes stated on Twitter, ‘My constituent & his family need full backing from the UK Govt to secure a fair judicial process. Will new now commit to a meeting after Boris bottled it?’.

Hunt, who became the new Foreign Secretary earlier this month, has been asked to fulfil the promise made by Boris Johnson in June, when the then Foreign Secretary agreed to meet Jagtar Singh’s family. Johnson then resigned just over a week later.

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Hundreds attend protests in Edinburgh and Birmingham

Over  400 Sikhs are estimated to have attended demonstrations in Edinburgh and Birmingham outside Indian consulate offices in the respective cities.

The protests, organised by the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign team, saw slogans and banners unveiled which called for the freedom of the 31 year old Scottish Sikh who has been tortured whilst detained for over eight months in India, without any charges being pressed and with no trial in sight.

The offices of the consulate in both cities were shuttered off, whilst there were also cameras filming from the windows, prompting concern among some of the protesters about how the footage would be used.

The demonstrations were the latest in a continuing series of attempts to highlight the worldwide concern for the situation of Jagtar Singh, who is recognised by many Sikh community organisations as the latest in a long line of Sikh activists detained by the Indian state for highlighting human rights abuses of the nation.


19.07.2018

Jagtar Singh’s brother reiterates calls for supporters to join protests

Gurpreet Singh called for supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign to join the protests next week, stating, ‘You have brought Jaggi’s name across the world. We need you to raise his voice higher.’

In a video released on social media, Gurpreet Singh is heard saying ‘The Indian government need to know we will not remain quiet and we will keep raising Jaggi’s voice.’

Check out the full video here.

 

‘Trial by media’ for Jagtar Singh as judicial process stalls

Indian media continue to live up to accusations of giving Jagtar Singh a ‘trial by media’ as a newspaper claims that he ‘planned to kill’ before any evidence has been presented to the public.

The claim, made by the Times of India newspaper, will further concern the Free Jaggi Now team as they continue to wait for progress on his situation in India, which has seen him detained without trial for over 10 months now.

The report quotes an intelligence official who said ‘British national Jagtar Singh Johal had planned to kill RSS leader Ravinder Gosain and several others after he met Mintoo in France in 2013.’

While this has been alleged numerous times publicly, no evidence has been provided by either the Punjab Police or India’s National Investigation Agency in dozens of court hearings for Jagtar Singh, which are being rescheduled to frustrate any meaningful judicial process.

 


17.07.2018

Brother of Jagtar Singh slams FCO report as a ‘kick in the teeth’ following its failure to mention human rights abuses against British citizen in India

On Monday 16th July the Foreign Office released its annual report on Human Rights and Democracy. Despite having separate sections for thirty countries, the only mentions of India were in a single paragraph regarding cooperation for female victims of violence. This came as a shock and disappointment to Gurpreet Singh, the brother of detained Briton Jagtar Singh, who has issued the following statement in response:

‘My brother is a British national who has been subjected to torture, mistreatment, and denied the right to a fair trial in India. This report is a kick in the teeth. The Free Jaggi Now campaign has exposed numerous human rights violations in India over the past eight months, so I am shocked to see the absence of any condemnation, or even discussion, of India in the FCO Human Rights and Democracy Report 2017.’ 

 


 

16.07.2018

‘There is no justice for Sikhs here’ says Jagtar Singh in first direct video

A video of Jagtar Singh emerged yesterday of him talking directly to camera in his first direct exchange with the media since he was detained. You can see the video here.

As he entered the NIA court building he was asked ‘What are you feeling?’ He said ‘I’m in Chardi Kala [the Sikh mind-set of ascending spirits/eternal optimism no matter the circumstances].

After exiting the court building he was put in the back of a police van and said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be out, back with you shortly!’. He was then asked ‘Are you hoping for justice?’ to which he replied ‘There is no justice for Sikhs here [in India] – you know this yourself!’

 

Protests announced in Edinburgh and Birmingham on 23rd July 

The Free Jaggi Now team in coordination with the Federation of Sikh Organisations have announced two protests will take place outside the Consulate General of India in Birmingham and Edinburgh on 23rd July from 2pm – 4pm. Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh issued an appeal to the Sikh community in the UK to be Jagtar Singh’s voice and continue pressuring for his innocence to be recognised.

bham protest edinburgh protest


 

13.07.18

Human Rights org reiterates call for torture investigation

A spokesman for human rights advocacy organisation Redress stated ‘It is crucial that the court does not use in Jagtar’s trial any evidence that has been obtained by torture.’

The comment, from Charlie Loudon, International Legal Adviser at REDRESS, followed a Moga district court confirming yesterday that Jagtar Singh will be tried with seven others for offences under the Indian Arms Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Read more from Redress here – https://redress.org/news/redress-reiterates-call-for-torture-investigation/.

 


12.07.18

47th pre-trial hearing sees charges named

The latest pre-trial hearing of Jagtar Singh Johal, the 47th in approximately eight months, saw more charges filed but still not trial in sight.

The charges – which in-line with Indian judicial process do not need to be completely revealed – fall under the anti-terror Arms Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) law, something which has widely been condemned by human rights organisations.

 


09.07.2018

Jagtar Singh’s brother responds to Foreign Secretary’s resignation, calling for his replacement to ‘get to grips’ with the case

Following the surprise resignation of the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over the government’s Brexit plan, Gurpreet Singh – the brother of detained Briton Jagtar Singh, issued the following statement:

‘I hope the resignation of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will lead to better relations between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the #FreeJaggiNow campaign team.

‘While my brother has been languishing in jail abroad, being tortured by the Punjab Police, Boris Johnson was largely idle. Jagtar Singh has had 46 pre-trial hearings, in a mockery of the Indian justice system fit only for fiction. Boris Johnson did not act after reports of my brother’s torture, and to this day my brother has not been able to meet British diplomats privately. Only last week did he agree to meet Jaggi’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes. Whoever is the next Foreign Secretary must get to grips with my brother’s case as soon as possible, not least by honouring that commitment to meet Martin Docherty-Hughes. Nothing should be more important to the British government than the safety and security of its citizens. It is easy to see this internal Tory squabble as a game. But far away from the Westminster bubble my brother urgently needs serious help. The tactics from the Punjab authorities could not be clearer: they are trying to ensure that my brother is forgotten. Our new Foreign Secretary must not let that happen.’ 

 

 


03.07.2018

Jagtar Singh’s 46th pre-trial hearing results in another delay due to Punjab Police tactics

Jagtar Singh’s pre-trial preliminary hearing was once again delayed today after his co-accused were not presented in court as well.

Jagtar Singh was presented in court for this 46th pre-trial preliminary hearing today, but the judge adjourned for three weeks after the Punjab Police employed a now familiar tactic of not presenting the co-accused in court as well.

The date for the next hearing is set at 24th July 2018, when arguments will be heard regarding the charge sheets filed on 4th May. That will be the 47th pre-trial hearing for Jagtar Singh.

 

 


 

02.07.2018

MPs from all sides sign letter to Prime Minister calling for further action on Jagtar Singh

Preet Kaur Gill MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, sent a letter to the Prime Minister today calling for further action over the detention and torture of Jagtar Singh.

Nearly 80 MPs from various parties signed the letter, which called on the Prime Minister to ‘use all the diplomatic means at your disposal to ensure that the Government of India abides by the rule of law and ensures that Mr Johal is not subjected to torture.’ The letter outlined the torture described by Jagtar Singh, including electrocution, at the hands of Indian authorities.

The letter also asked the Prime Minister to call on the Indian government to respond to the joint appeal made by three UN special rapporteurs. The Indian government has not responded to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom and Religion and Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, all of whom have raised Jagtar Singh’s case.

In a further note of Indian government indifference, the letter said that the APPG had written to Captain Amrinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, ‘but to no avail’.

As a sign that the matter is being dealt with at the highest possible level, the letter also said that a statement by the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to the House of Commons, was ‘urgently needed’.

The letter was signed by members of the APPG for British Sikhs, Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, and some 70 other MPs from parties including Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, SNP and Green.

 

letter1

 

letter2

 

letter 3

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

26.06.18

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson finally agrees to meet Jagtar Singh’s MP

At Foreign Office questions, yesterday, the Foreign Secretary finally agreed to meet Martin Docherty Hughes, Jagtar Singh’s MP.

The case of Jagtar Singh was raised in the chamber by Eddie Hughes, MP for Walsall North, asked what representations the British government had made regarding Jagtar Singh’s case.

Foreign Office Mark Fields replied, saying that he met Martin Docherty Hughes on 18th June; he raised it in New Delhi on 7th May; and that the Prime Minister had brought Jagtar Singh’s case up on 14th April at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Martin Docherty Hughes himself then rose to ask ‘When will the Foreign Secretary now bother to meet Jagtar Singh Johal’s constituency Member of Parliament to discuss this face to face?’ while Boris Johnson was sitting in the chamber.

As Mark Field was replying, the Foreign Secretary mumbled something to him indicating that he would meet Martin Docherty Hughes, leading the Foreign office minister to confirm: ‘My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary says from a sedentary position that he would be happy to meet him at the earliest convenient opportunity.’

 


 

 

15.06.18

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer denied entry to UK; includes statement from Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh 

Earlier today, Sikh Siyasat News reported that Jagtar Singh’s lawyer in India, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, has been denied a visa to visit the UK.

The internationally-renowned was planning on visiting the UK during a break in Jagtar Singh’s court proceedings to discuss the case with Jagtar Singh’s family.

Jagtar Singh’s family consider the situation too unsafe for them to travel there. During the past six months, his family members in India have been threatened, intimidated and driven into hiding. You can read the full report, including a response from Advocate Manjhpur here.

Gurpreet Singh, Jagtar Singh’s brother, has said of the situation:

‘My brother’s lawyer in India, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, has been denied a visa to the UK, where he was planning to visit and discuss my brother’s case with our family during a summer break in  court proceedings. In denying Advocate Manjhpur a visa, the government has left our family disconnected from my brother’s case, and prevented us from hearing the full truth about his condition. Every day we struggle with the agony of not knowing what exactly is going on. It is too dangerous for any of us to travel to India. Already the police in Punjab have forced Jaggi’s wife into hiding and ransacked our family’s properties there, leading to the death of our grandmother.’

We want to meet Jaggi’s lawyer directly, and hear from him without the threat of interference or intimidation from the Indian authorities. The British government promised ‘extreme action’ months ago, but have delivered nothing. And now, the first intervention by the government in months has been to prevent us from hearing the truth.’

So far, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has maintained that this is a Home Office issue. Despite this, the Sikh PA team is keen to understand from the Foreign Office whether the visa denial was the result of any communication between the Indian and British governments. We are hoping to having statements from both the Foreign Office and the Home Office shortly.

 


 

13.06.18

Senior Punjab Police Officers named as involved in torturing Jagtar Singh

Sikh news agency Sikh Siyasat News has seen documents which appear to authenticate the handwritten letter from Jagtar Singh outlining his torture. Those documents also reveal that Jagtar Singh verbally disclosed the names of senior police officers that were party to his torture, to his legal counsel Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur.

Read the full story here: https://sikhsiyasat.net/2018/06/13/senior-punjab-police-officers-allegedly-involved-in-torturing-british-citizen-jagtar-singh-johal/

 

 


 

09.06.18

Handwritten note by Jagtar Singh detailing torture released

A note written by Scottish Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal, detailing his torture at the hands of Panjab police, has today revealed he was electrocuted and threatened with being burned alive.

The note also states his family was also threatened and comes just weeks after Jagtar Singh’s co-accused Harminder Singh died in prison in circumstances which many see as suspicious, including Harminder Singh’s lawyer who claimed his death was part of a ‘state conspiracy’.

Read more on the note here from Sikh Federation UK.

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), who joined Jagtar’s family in the meeting with UN officials last month said:

“The Indian authorities have no evidence against Jagtar that would stand up in court and that is why they tortured him and threatened to burn him alive or shoot him dead in a fake encounter.”

“According to Jagtar’s handwritten note that the UK Government and the UN experts have been aware of for many months they also threatened his newly-wed wife and cousin sister with the ‘same treatment’.”

“We now know that during the torture and death threats to him and his family members the Indian police forced Jagtar to sign blank papers and other documents and make false video recordings saying exactly what they wanted him to say to implicate him.”

 


 

05.06.18

45th pre-trial hearing sees another month-long deferment

Today Jagtar Singh appeared in court in Mohali for his 45th pre-trial hearing. There he was presented with a different charge sheet in which he was named. However, this charge sheet is the same as the previous, with the only difference being that it relates to another case. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) have named Jagtar Singh as an accused despite no evidence being presented against him. The next hearing has been set for 3rd July 2018.

 

National Indian Students’ Advisor appeals for ‘access to consular services’ for Jagtar Singh

Sikh PA spoke with Charan Singh Sekhon, Advisor for the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU – UK) and Chariman of Social Education Voluntary Association (SEVA Trust UK) in regards to the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

See below for his full statement on this case.

I firmly support equal human rights for all citizens and strongly oppose any torture or denial of access from the legal rights the Indian constitution gives to all. I do not know the exact details of evidence presented in courts in India in Jagtar Singh’s case, media reports suggest that he has been charged and the matter is in judiciary process. I firmly appeal to the British Government, Punjab and Indian Governments for a fair trial and a full access to legal and consular services and he should be given full rights the judiciary system offers to the UK citizens to ensure the process is fair, impartial and unbiased.  – Charan Kanwal Singh Sekhon

 


 

03.06.18 

Jagtar Singh’s brother addressed thousands of Sikhs at 1984 Sikh genocide rally in Trafalgar Square

Watch speech here.

Gurpreet Singh, the brother of detained Briton Jagtar Singh Johal, addressed thousands of Sikhs at a rally in Trafalgar Square yesterday, marking those who were killed in the Sikh genocide of 1984.

He opened his speech saying: ‘Jaggi is not here today but the entire sangat [Sikh congregation] is saying “I am Jaggi”.’

Last week photos showed Jaggi leaving court wearing a dastaar [Sikh turban] and smiling. His brother said: ‘My heart was so happy that say when I saw that picture of Jaggi wearing a dastaar. And if you look at his smile there, you can see that he is in Chardi Kala [the Sikh ethos of ever-rising spirits]’ He told the assembled crowd of thousands that Jaggi’s Chardi Kala was the gift of the sangat [Sikh congregation].

The rally at Trafalgar Square yesterday followed a march from Hyde Park in which tens of thousands of Sikhs came to commemorate the Sikh shaheeds [martyrs] of 1984, killed when the Indian Army attacked Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar and launched a broader campaign anti-Sikh destruction.

Jagtar Singh’s brother told the crowd: ‘Jaggi felt the pain of the Singhs and Singhnia, the torture that they had endured. Jaggi has told his wife that he used to read about the torture of Sikhs, but now I have felt what they endured.’

He also told the crowd about the details of Jaggi’s torture that he had outlined in a letter to the British High Commission in India. This included beatings and the electrocution of various body parts over several days. Jaggi was told by his torturers: ‘You used to write about what happened to the wives and sisters of Sikh martyrs, now we’ll show you what we can do.’

Gurpreet Singh appealed: ‘Think about this: if they can do this now to a British citizen, what must have they done at that time [in 1984] to the great martyrs.’

He told them: ‘Without you, the Sikh congregation, and without Guru Sahib, it is possible that Jaggi would not be alive today.’

He said that the British government had told him directly that they will only pressure the Indian authorities over Jaggi for as long as the Sikh community is pressuring for his human rights to be upheld. He said: ‘That the British government referenced his case in Parliament within 10 days this is also your gift. You have carried Jaggi’s voice across the world. It’s because of this voice that Jaggi is still alive today.’

The resolve of the British Sikh community was evident as the speech was interspersed with jaikarai [Sikh war cries] from the crowd. Jagtar Singh’s brother said that Sikhs were defiant: ‘We will stay standing with Jaggi for as long as he does not return […] The Indian Government can see today that the Sikh community has awoken.’

Speaking about the day to Sikh PA, Gurpreet Singh said: “What happened in 1984 to the Sikhs in India is still impacting Sikhs today all over the world, and the situation of my brother Jagtar is a clear example of that.

“Anyone that speaks out against Indian government atrocities can be targeted as my brother has been. This has been the case since 1984 and before that too. That’s why here today there is so much support for the Free Jaggi Now campaign. 

With so many that have come to London today and shown support for the Free Jaggi Now campaign, I hope our UK government will take notice and intervene in his situation. I thank all of those who are continually speaking out and pushing for more to be done to help my brother Jagtar Singh Johal.”

See also:

http://www.thenational.scot/news/16266723.Supporters_of_Scots_man_jailed_in_India_join_London_demonstration/

 

 

#FreeJaggiNow campaign workshop announced for 23rd June

At the Trafalgar Square rally today, Gurpreet Singh said there would be a meeting from 2pm – 4pm on 23rd June at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick to discuss the #FreeJaggiNow campaign. He invited the Sikh youth in particular to come and get involved, and for Sikh history – especially that of the shaheeds – to be taught widely so that all young Sikhs would know about the sacrifices of those that came before them.

The workshop will aim to teach supporters how to continue to raise awareness and support the campaign.

 


29.05.18

Thousands of #FreeJaggiNow supporters expected for London rally

A gathering of tens of thousands of Sikhs to mark the 34th anniversary of the Amritsar massacre – officially known as Operation Blue Star – is set to see mass support for the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, this weekend in London.

Taking place on Sunday 3 June, Sikhs and human rights supporters will meet from 11am in Hyde Park before a rally through London takes place, culminating in a mass gathering in Trafalgar Square from 2pm. Previous years have seen over 100,000 Sikhs come together for the annual commemoration.

Representatives of the campaign will be addressing the crowds in Trafalgar Square, with supporters encouraged to attend to ‘Be Jaggi’s voice and fight back against the oppressive state of India’.

 

 


 

23.05.18

43rd pre-trial hearing: Judge leaves before hearing the case – trial adjourned

Following the adjournment of the last two hearings, the 43rd pre-trial hearing was held in Mohali Court today. This was to be regarding the charge sheet submitted by the NIA at the beginning of May. The judge was present in court today until lunch and then left before the case was called, leaving the duty magistrate to hear the case. As per their authority, the duty magistrate gave Jagtar Singh’s counsel copies of the charge sheet but did not hear any arguments. The case has been adjourned until 5th June.

 

Jagtar Singh’s MP criticises Prime Minister for lack of response; Speaker says the case should be ‘addressed fully’ 

Jagtar Singh’s MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, today raised a point of order in the House of Commons, highlighting the fact that he has received nothing more than a holding reply from the Prime Minister’s Office after writing to her about his detained constituent.

In the exchange, the SNP member of Parliament noted that Jagtar Singh had been held for 200 days, with accusations of torture, and said: ‘I have now written to the Prime Minister twice, without formal response other than a holding response from their office.’ He asked for the Speaker’s reassurance ‘that all Ministers of State take their responsibilities seriously in responding fully to a constituency Member of the House of Commons on a critical matter involving a constituent—a UK citizen, and a true son of the Rock of Dumbarton—who has made accusations of torture against a close ally?’

 

The Speaker gave a characteristically lengthy reply, saying:

I hope that these matters are always treated with the utmost seriousness, and that responses to parliamentary colleagues are both timely and substantive. I say to the hon. Gentleman, without fear of contradiction, that that notion of a timely and substantive response should apply both in relation to parliamentary answers to parliamentary questions and in relation to correspondence. I was not familiar with all the details of this matter, although the hon. Gentleman has apprised me of some of them, but it is of course important that these matters are addressed fully.

A moment ago, we heard from the Father of the House—perhaps I may respond on this point because it is quite an important one for all of us. A former Father of the House, Sir Gerald Kaufman, when he did not receive substantive replies to questions or letters, was given to tabling a written question on the matter, inquiring when he would receive a substantive reply. If I remember correctly, Sir Gerald was inclined to say that that was an extremely effective technique. I volunteer that advice gratis to the hon. Gentleman. 

 


 

22.05.18

42nd pre-trial hearing adjourned after suspected delaying tactic

Jagtar Singh’s 42nd pre-trial hearing at Mohali Court was adjourned until tomorrow after not all of the co-accused were present. Jagtar Singh however, was present. This is a notorious delaying tactic often employed by the NIA to prevent a trial for as long as possible.

 


 

21.05.18 

41st pre-trial hearing postponed after meeting between judge and NIA

Jagtar Singh’s 41st pre-trial hearing, which was scheduled for today, has been re-scheduled to 23rd May with no notification given to either Jagtar Singh or his team. The rescheduling occurred after a meeting between the trial judge and India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), in which the NIA submitted another charge sheet on 19th May.


 

 

 

20.05.18

Jagtar Singh to face 41st pre-trial hearing as 200 day mark approaches

Tomorrow, Monday 21 May, will see Jagtar Singh being presented for his 41st Preliminary Pre-Trial Hearing. He has been detained for 198 days without charge.

Jagtar Singh will be taken to Mohali court by the NIA in relation to a charge sheet filed on 10th May, in which he was named as an accused, despite there being no evidence against him.


 

19.05.18

40th pre-trial hearing yet still no official charges against Jagtar Singh

Despite his 40th pre-trial hearing today, Jagtar Singh has still not been officially charged. He was not physically in court, but presented via video conference. His next appearance in court will be at Moga on 30th May. In the meantime, he is still being detained at a high security prison in Punjab. 22nd May will mark 200 days since Jagtar Singh was detained with no official charges in sight.


 

10.05.18

Punjab Police files questionable charge sheet

In a shocking development, the Punjab Police have filed a charge sheet which is dated as having been filed on 27th April 2018. This charge sheet directly relates to interrogations in which Jagtar Singh was tortured. There has been no independent medical examination of him yet and he has not received private consular access.

There has been no account for the date discrepancy on the charge sheet, nor for the lack of an independent medical examination and private consular access, which casts doubt on its contents.


 

 

06.05.18

#FreeJaggiNow campaign exclusive statement: ‘Jaggi is NOT being charged with murder’

The Sikh Press Association team spoke directly with the #FreeJaggiNow team who clarified the situation around Jagtar Singh Johal, in accordance with the Scotsman’s legal team, following the submittal of a charge-sheet by the NIA (National Investigation Agency). Read about what Jagtar Singh’s current situation is here.


 

04.05.18

MP issues ‘challenge’ to UK media to ensure Jagtar ‘gets a fair trial’

A video statement by Jagtar Singh’s local SNP MP of West Dunbartonshire today asked for UK media to ensure the 31 year old Scot ‘gets access to an open and fair trial’.

Speaking after having conducted a BBC Scotland interview, Docherty-Hughes said ‘It is now up to news outlets across the UK to pick this story up. The challenge to them is to highlight this situation and hold it to a real bright light so we know the Indian authorities, the judicial authorities in India, make sure Jagtar -if formal charges have been made – gets access to an open and fair trial’.

See the full video here.

 

Human Rights advocacy org REDRESS statement on charge against Jagtar Singh

The charges presented against British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal before an Indian court today are compromised by the strong allegations that he has suffered severe torture while in the custody of the Indian police, says human rights group REDRESS.

Jagtar, otherwise known as “Jaggi”, from Dumbarton, asserts that from 4 to 7 November, shortly after his arrest in a street in India, police tortured him by applying electric shocks to his ears, nipples and genitals, forcing his limbs apart, and sleep deprivation. Jagtar’s lawyers in India report that at a secret court hearing on 10 November, witnesses observed that he had severe difficulty standing or walking, and had to be assisted as he entered and left the room.

Jagtar has still not been granted an independent medical examination, six months after the alleged torture, despite repeated requests by his lawyers. As far as REDRESS is aware India has taken no steps to investigate the allegations.

Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS said, “There are extremely serious allegations that Jagtar has been tortured. The Government of India needs to investigate these allegations immediately to ascertain what happened to him. Any evidence obtained through torture cannot be used by the court.”

Skilbeck added: “If Jagtar has indeed been tortured, the credibility of the entire legal process against him is undermined. This is why it is crucial that he is given an independent medical examination and that an immediate investigation into the allegations of torture is opened.”

 

 

Free Jaggi Now campaign team statement on charge against Jagtar Singh

Official Free Jaggi Now campaign statement:
The announcement of a ‘charge sheet’ after six in relation to only one of several pending cases, after months of detention and 28 pre-trial hearings, represents how damaged the Indian legal system is in reality.
These shambolic proceedings are invalidated by the fact that Jagtar Singh Johal has allegedly suffered torture, and despite diplomatic concerns raised by Britain no investigation of the torture has taken place. The NIA courts denied an independent medical examination during police remand, when Jagtar Singh was most vulnerable. To date Indian authorities have not granted permission for British consular staff to meet Jagtar Singh in private. 
 
Any proceedings based on confessions extracted during torture, with no investigation of torture are invalidated according to international standards on human rights and judicial process.

Breaking – reports suggest charges against Jagtar Singh are for murder and criminal conspiracy

Reports after a court hearing for Jagtar Singh today claim a 1,500+ page charge-sheet for murder and criminal conspiracy has been filed against the Scotsman today by the NIA (National India Agency).

Brought against him in a Mohali court, the charges relate to the murder of Hindu nationalist leader Ravinder Gosain in October of 2017, around the time Jagtar Singh was getting married in Punjab.

Despite the charge coming 182 days after Jagtar Singh was originally detained, the NIA claim there are 172 witnesses in the case, prompting questions about why it has taken so long to file the charge-sheet, especially when in November 2017 Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder claimed the 31 year old from Dumbarton was ‘guilty’.

The charge-sheet was given on the day of the UN Geneva #FreeJaggiNow protest and a court hearing about the charge-sheet is set for 22 May, the date of Jagtar Singh’s 200th day being detained by Indian authorities.

 

Breaking – NIA to formally charge Jagtar Singh

The official #FreeJaggiNow page have stated after 182 days a charge-sheet will be presented against Jagtar Singh. Follow https://www.facebook.com/freejagginow/ for updates. Sikh PA will share any updates as they come in.


 

01.05.18

UN protest announced for #FreeJaggiNow campaign
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign in support of Scotsman detained in India Jagtar Singh Johal will reach the UN headquarters on 4th May in Switzerland, Geneva, from 12pm-4pm.

Family of Jagtar Singh Johal will go from Dumbarton to be at the protest, including Jagtar’s brother Gurpreet Singh. Members of the Sikh Federation UK and Sikhs from across Europe are also expected to be part of the demonstration where supporters will push for intervention to ensure Jagtar’s human rights are being kept.

See details in image below.

Free Jaggi Now - UN protest poster

 


 


29.04.18

Thousands show support for #FreeJaggiNow at Handsworth Vaisakhi event

Images of Jagtar Singh Johal were on display as thousands showed support for the campaign to free him at the annual Handsworth Vaisakhi mela in Birmingham today.

Free Jaggi Now - handsworth banner flag

The Scotsman has been detained in India for 176 days without charge, in a scenario all too familiar for many Sikhs. Organisations like SOPW (Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare) have supported Sikhs imprisoned in India since 2002 and have helped free many after simply pushing for due process, often by simply funding a proper legal team to represent Sikhs being accused of crimes. Many cases have also seen Sikhs detained for years in prison before a trial has even taken place, with the trial often resulting in the case falling apart immediately.

As such, the plight of Jagtar Singh is something many Sikhs have spoken out against. Jagtar Singh’s brother spoke at the Handsworth event alongside Sikh Youth UK sevadaars (selfless volunteers) and was personally wished well by hundreds.


 

28.04.18

London Mayor states that ‘the job of the FCO is to assist’ Jagtar Singh Johal

Today at the Trafalgar Square Vaisakhi event we spoke with Sadiq Khan. We take every opportunity we get with government officials to ask about the situation of Jagtar Singh Johal, Scottish Sikh detained in India without charge for over 170 days. Hear what the Mayor of London had to say about the day’s celebrations, #FreeJaggiNow and Jallianwala Bagh in this video.


 

26.04.18

Labour Party confirm #FreeJaggiNow case was NOT ‘brought up directly with Modi’

The Sikh Press Association spoke with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell at the launch of the 2018 British Sikh Report. He confirmed that the Labour Party did not raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the UK last week.

 


 

21.04.18

Jagtar Singh co-accused dies in jail and #FreeJaggiNow team call it ‘mysterious’

Harminder Singh Mintoo, a Sikh accused of crimes of terror for his role with the Khalistan Liberation Force, died in police custody, fuelling further concern for the safety of Jagtar Singh.

Harminder Singh died on 18th April of a heart-condition, according to media sources. Mintoo was accused of some of the same crimes Jagtar Singh is being linked with, even though he had been detained since 2014 by Indian authorities.

A statement by the #FreeJaggiNow page reads:

In the latest attempt to create false links, police officials physically tortured another co-accused to the point where he mysteriously died in their custody. This co-accused was a known heart patient and a doctor had advised officials he required special medical assistance due to this heart problem.

We have seen the forced suicide of a fake witness and now the mysterious death of a co-accused whilst in the custody of jail officials. What is India going to do next?

 

20.04.18

Modi-May meeting leaves #FreeJaggiNow campaign frustrated

#FreeJaggiNow campaigners have expressed their frustration at the lack of transparency over Indo-British bilateral discussions regarding Jagtar Singh.

The brother of Jagtar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, has said that the Modi-May meeting ‘has left me with more questions than answers, and my brother’s condition unchanged.’

For further information, including full quotes, see:

http://www.sikhpa.com/freejagginow-campaigners-frustrated-at-lack-of-transparency-over-indo-british-bilateral-discussions/

 


 

18.04.18

Hundreds join #FreeJaggiNow protest as Prime Minister raises case with Indian counterpart

Hundreds of #FreeJaggiNow campaigners from across the country and a variety of Sikh organisations came to raise awareness of the continued detention of Jagtar Singh.

They gathered this afternoon in Parliament Square, a stone’s throw away from where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

#FreeJaggiNow protesters were joined by members of other marginalised groups in India, who were campaigning against various Hindu nationalist atrocities aligned with Modi’s BJP party.

Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister had raised the case of Jagtar Singh with her Indian counterpart, but offered no further details as to what was said.

For more information see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-43809583 


 

10.04.18

‘Trying is not enough for us’ says Jagtar Singh’s brother, who appeals for action over detained Briton

In a video message, the brother of Jagtar Singh, Gurpreet Singh, has appealed for people to join the protest against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and to raise Jaggi’s voice on 18th April, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London. The protest will take place from 11.30am in Parliament Square, central London.

Gurpreet Singh also referenced remarks by Foreign Office minister Mark Field who said that he would ‘try’ to raise the case of Jagtar Singh with Modi during his forthcoming trip. ‘Trying is not enough for us,’ said Gurpreet Singh, who also appealed for gurdwaras to arrange coaches for their congregations to join the protest. Click here for the full video: https://www.facebook.com/freejagginow/videos/1652628494774647/

 


 

04.04.18

Jagtar Singh’s brother talks to BBC Radio about brother’s condition

Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh has spoken of his concern now that his brother has spent 150 days in detention without charge.

Speaking to BBC Radio, Gurpreet Singh said how his brother will have been detained for 8 months before any decision is made about whether to conduct a medical. He reiterated how his brother has not been charged yet, and described his brother’s conditions in the maximum-security prison in Nabha. To listen to the full interview, see: https://www.facebook.com/freejagginow/videos/1646915295345967/

 


 

02.04.18

Sikhs worldwide mark 150 days of Jagtar Singh’s detention without charge

Today Jagtar Singh reached 150 days in detention. To date, no evidence has been produced, there has been no independent medical despite allegations of torture, no investigation has been made into those allegations, there has been no private consular access, nor has a charge has been filed against Jagtar Singh.

To mark this gross injustice, a twitter hour was held from 8pm where members of the Sikh community voiced their anger and concern at Jagtar Singh’s treatment with the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow.

 

 

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29.03.18

#FreeJaggiNow protest announced for Modi visit

The #FreeJaggiNow campaign have organised a protest at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, which will include the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Thousands of Sikhs from across the UK will converge on Parliament Square on Wednesday 18th April from 11.30am (till 3.00pm) to voice their concern at both the British and Indian governments that Jagtar Singh’s case is being ignored.

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Media enquiries relating to the protest march should be directed to: media@sikhpa.com

 


 

28.03.18

Boris Johnson insists on proper, free, and fair legal process for Jagtar Singh

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson today said that Jagtar Singh needed access to a ‘proper, free, and fair legal process and a fair trial.’

In a meeting with Conservative MP for Walsall North Eddie Hughes, the Foreign Secretary commented:

‘I want to stress that we in the UK government are doing everything we can to ensure that Mr Johal has access to justice, that we raise the conditions in which he is being held, and we insist that he must be given proper, free, and fair legal process and a fair trial.’

However, Mr Johnson has still not met the family of Jagtar Singh, despite it approaching 150 days since Jagtar Singh was detained.

 


 

27.03.2018 

‘Britain can put more pressure’ – Labour MP speaks on #FreeJaggiNow campaign

Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma today claimed that British authorities could ‘put more pressure’ on Indian authorities to ensure Jagtar Singh’s ‘human rights are defended and protected’.

Speaking to the Sikh Press Association at the UK parliament Turban Awareness Day, the Labour party MP who has previously spoken out on the situation of Jagtar Singh and been accused of misrepresenting the situation, also admitted he was ‘unaware’ of issues which have prompted #FreeJaggiNow campaigners to suggest the Scotsman’s human rights were being breached.

In response to a question about why the Foreign Office was unable to facilitate a private meeting with Jagtar Singh, or an independent medical – a hearing for which was recently delayed by an incredible four months – , Sharma responded, ‘I am not aware of that but I understand the British High Commission is very closely watching and liaising with authorities there. 

‘Britain can put more pressure. I have written to the High Commission in Delhi, Sushma Swaraj (Indian minister of External Affairs) and the UK Indian High Commission here to try and make sure his human rights are defended and protected.’

The statement from Sharma backs up the sentiment expressed on the Free Jaggi Now official Facebook campaign page, which has continually highlighted the fact that the Foreign Office have not backed up a statement made in November which claimed ‘extreme action’ would be taken should any findings point to Jagtar Singh’s human rights be breached by Indian authorities. Since then, Jagtar Singh’s family and lawyer have reiterated his own reports of being tortured and abused, whilst he has still not been given a private meeting with UK consular staff or an independent medical.

 


22.03.2018

BREAKING – Judge delays Jagtar Singh’s medical hearing for FOUR MONTHS

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign were left anguished after a hearing for Jagtar Singh’s independent medical was delayed until July 23.

The news was broken by the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign page this evening following the hearing at Chandigarh High Court. UK officials as well as human rights activists have been pushing the Indian government for an independent medical for the Scottish Sikh since he reported torture in November 2017. Since that report, more allegations of torture in the form of mental abuse, isolation without release from a cell and being kept in handcuffs 24/7.

Stay tune for further information.

 


16.03.2018

Video of MP Preet Kaur discussing Jaggi situation

Here Edgbaston Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill discusses Jagtar Singh’s situation and calls for further movement from the British authorities in supporting the Scottish Sikh.

See video here.


15.03.2018

Amnesty international: 894 deaths in eight months of prisoners in judicial custody

The Free Jaggi Now team today shared details of an Amnesty international report which revealed an astounding amount of deaths of people detained in judicial custody in India.

Detailing reports from January-August 2017, the report also stated there were 74 deaths in police custody during this period. The official Free Jaggi Now campaign page on Facebook also stated “there is a section on 18 prisoners being beaten by prison staff in Tihar over an appeal for extra pillow covers. Tihar jail in New Delhi is the same prison where the NIA had seeked to transfer Jaggi to whilst complaining he was not safe in Nabha jail in Punjab.”

The post shared concerns of supporters of the campaign that the seriousness of Jagtar Singh’s detainment is not being recognised by UK officials, who promised ‘extreme action’ in November, but as of yet have still not done anything to arrange a private meet with Jagtar Singh or an independent medical.

The campaign page status went on to say “In India as there are too many incidents which are unreported and covered up by prison staff and these numbers are simply the tip of the iceberg. In truth the numbers are significantly more and this shows how unsafe Jaggi is everyday he is detained in India. The Indian Government has shown from day one they are not interested in giving Jaggi a fair trial and have ignored all official correspondence on a high level.”

 


14.03.2018

Summary of parliament debate looking into Jagtar Singh case

A parliament debate organised by Edgbaston’s Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill saw discussions around the case of Jagtar Singh Johal and the resulting liaison between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Indian authorities.

Read our summary on this here.


13.03.18

UK parliament debate looking into Jagtar Singh case – watch live!

Sikh Labour Party MP Preet Kaur Gill has arranged a parliament debate which will look into the case of Jagtar Singh Johal and the resulting liaison between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Indian authorities.

This starts from 4pm. Watch it live here.

 


08.03.18

Sikh MP arranges parliament debate looking into Jagtar Singh case

Sikh Labour Party MP Preet Kaur Gill has arranged a parliament debate which will look into the case of Jagtar Singh Johal and the resulting liaison between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Indian authorities.

The debate will take place on March 13th at Westminster Hall in parliament, by which time Jagtar Singh will be in detainment without charge and having been tortured by Indian state officials for 131 days.

It is specifically on British Nationals Abroad, has been arranged to ‘maintain pressure’ from Preet Kaur on both British and Indian governments on Jagtar Singh’s case, whilst also highlighting the great work being done by NGO (non-government organisations) in this area.

 


05.03.2018

Jagtar Singh remanded for another month

In a disturbing development, Jagtar Singh has been remanded in judicial custody for nearly another month. Today he made his 31st court appearance, where he learned that his next appearance to a court will not be until 3rd April. Moreover, that hearing is scheduled to take place via video link.

Jakara Movement will be holding a forum event at the University of California, Berkeley on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at 7-9pm at 145 Boalt Hall to talk about the situation surrounding the detention of Jagtar Singh. The forum will discuss corruption in India as well as the actions of the Indian agencies who have detained Jagtar Singh for over 120 days now.

 


03.03.18

MP presses Foreign Office to bring up Jagtar Singh case in meet with Indian PM directly

MP Martin Docherty-Hughes of West Dunbartonshire requested Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Mark Field to raise the situation of Jagtar Singh with Narendra Modi, when British Govt delegates meet with the Indian Prime Minister in April.

Docherty-Hughes mentioned that due to ‘the detention without charge of Jagtar Singh Johal of Dunbarton, the Sikh community across the UK have become gravely concerned that they too may be detained for simply being a member of the Sikh faith’, before directly asking ‘what discussions will the UK be having with the government of India on the persecution of those of the Sikh faith?’.

See a video on his comments in full here.

 


01.03.2018

Jagtar Singh transferred again to judicial custody

 In his 30th court appearance, it was decided that Jagtar Singh would be transferred from police custody to judicial custody in Nabha jail, where he has previously been held.

During this latest period in police custody, there was no visit from the British High Commission to check on his wellbeing. It has now been 118 days since his detention and he has still not been charged.

Jagtar Singh’s next court appearance – his 31st –  is due on 5th March. Then, his judicial custody will end and it is for the judge to decide what further action to take.

 

Sikh hunger strike pledges support for Jagtar Singh

Bapu Surat Singh, a renowned Sikh human rights activist, today signed a message of support saying ‘Free Jaggi Now’ for Jagtar Singh Johal, who is still being held without charge.

Bapu Surat Singh has been on hunger strike for over three years as he fights for the freedom of Sikh political prisoners in India.


25.02.18

#FreeJaggiNow Rally in Washington

#FreeJaggiNow - washington rally

One of several vehicles that were part of the rally.

USA based supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow held a rally in support of the Scottish Sikh that has been detained by the Indian government without charge for 114 days.

A statement from the group holding the rally reads: “We condemn the actions of the Indian Government and demand the release of Jagtar Singh Johal (Jaggi). Jaggi is a U.K. born and raised citizen that was abducted by the government and he has been tortured for over 100 days without a charge or any evidence against him. We stand in solidarity with minorities and will not tolerate human rights violations anywhere in the world.”

 


29th court hearing in just over three months results in yet another extension on remand and STILL no official charge

Jagtar Singh was presented today in court for the 29th time in three and a half months for his 29th pre-trial hearing.

At today’s hearing the Punjab police once again applied for police remand. Allegedly a disk containing government records was obtained by Punjab police, the night before the 29th hearing. Today the Punjab police presented this unsealed and unstamped disk in court requesting 10 days of police remand.

Objections to this alleged evidence were raised by defense lawyers who stated the NIA have already obtained the files on the disk, and the request for another extension on remand is just a continuation of the tactic to delay and thus demoralise the momentum of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign.

A judge granted five days of police remand until 1st March, making it 10 days in remand in total for this latest case. As of yet, no evidence has been presented in court despite multiple police remand extensions for ‘recovery’.

Police remand is historically where mistreatment is commonplace and where detainees are most vulnerable according to human rights groups that have looked into the Punjab police. Jagtar Singh has had the same clothes for the last five days, and has not been allowed fresh clothes. He has been isolated from his family visits by constant relocation. Lawyers and family have not been informed of his whereabouts in a timely manner, and only after investigating by the legal team is his actual location revealed.

A statement via the official #FreeJaggiNow page stated “The Indian government and its security forces have constantly violated due process, operated with impunity, and zero transparency in the way Jaggi has been treated.”

 

 


20.02.18

28th court hearing in 109 days results in Jagtar Singh back in the hands of Punjab Police 

Jagtar Singh was today presented before a judge at Faridkot judicial court where a four day stay in police remand was granted based on another new charge (details in article below).

The court appearance followed a familiar pattern which the #FreeJaggiNow campaign team said ‘This is a another attempt by both agencies to come together and come up with a new plan to plant a charge on Jaggi and to save face in front of the entire world. The transfer of Jaggi to the NIA was due to the Punjab police being unable to professionally carry out the investigations and having a poor track record when it comes to Human Rights. However, it appears the judges are not taking the safety and wellbeing of Jaggi into consideration as they allow him to be “kicked” from one agency back to the other when it pleases them.’

As of yet, no official charge nor any FRI (First Information Report) has been shown to name the 31 year old Scotsman. Reports of torture by Jagtar Singh saw a push from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to arrange a private meeting with him and UK officials, as well as an independent medical. Both have thus far not been allowed to happen by Indian authorities.

For regular updates on the case of Jagtar Singh you can follow his official campaign support team on facebook, twitter or instagram under Free Jaggi Now.


19.02.18

Yet ANOTHER case put against Jagtar Singh, STILL no charge

In what is being seen as an attempt to further add legal delays to the case of Jagtar Singh to ensure he can be kept detained by the Indian government, the Scotsman is set to be implicated in yet another new case.

FIR No. 63 (dated 26-06-2017) under Section 25 Arms Act, at Police station Bajakhana (Faridkot) in the court of duty magistrate Atul Kamboj, which does not directly name Jagtar Singh, will be added to the list of criminal cases the 31 year old is being accused of.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign state this is a move to seeing Jagtar Singh spend ‘years’ in detention at the hands of the Indian state before a case even goes to trial, considering India’s notorious slow legal legislation.

As of yet, Jagtar Singh has still not been officially charged with any crime despite spending 108 days detained by Punjab Police, with no trial or progress in his situation clear on the horizon either.


17.02.18

No legal basis for Jagtar state transfer

A post of the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign page today claimed ‘There was no legal basis for this (application for a state transfer) transfer and was merely an attempt to fool the judge and remove Jaggi from his family and legal defence team.’

The statement comes after a court dismissed the application to transfer Jagtar Singh to Delhi, where he would be over a hundred miles away from his family and legal team. The pursuing of a state transfer was worrying to supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign who felt he would be more vulnerable if kept away from visitors.

The facebook statement on this application went to request supporters to ‘keep this pressure mounting on the UK government’, as pushes for direct intervention continue. Read the full statement here.

 


16.02.18 

Court dismisses extra-judicial NIA application to transfer Jagtar Singh to Delhi

Today the NIA court ruled on the subject of yesterday’s proceedings (see post below) on whether Jagtar Singh could be transferred out of Punjab to Tihar jail in Delhi.

The NIA special court, under Ms. Anshul Berry, has dismissed the NIA application to transfer Jagtar Singh, along with nine others, outside of Punjab.

This decision was expected by Jagtar Singh’s defence team as the application was not in conjunction with any provision of Indian law. Nor did it fall under the jurisdiction of the NIA special court. Despite this, the NIA had obtained support for the application from the Indian Home Ministry and was not objected to by either the Punjab or Delhi government.

The news will delight supporters of Jagtar Singh’s #FreeJaggiNow campaign, who were worried that distancing him from his lawyer and families could result in even more ill-treatment at the hands of the Indian state authorities.

For a further breakdown of the arguments, and the response of Jagtar Singh’s lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur please see the post from yesterday directly below. A full report of this story can be found at Sikh Siyasat News.

 


15.02.18

Interview with Jagtar Singh’s defence lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur

On 12th February, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted a written application to transfer Jagtar Singh and nine other individuals from Punjab to Tihar jail in Delhi. That application was discussed in court today, after which Jagtar Singh’s lawyer, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur gave an interview to Sikh Siyasat News commenting on the day’s proceedings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpR7jN7rGzo).

The NIA argument for the transfer to Delhi was under Article 21 of Indian Constitution, that Jagtar Singh and others detained be transferred for their own safety and liberty. Of this, Manjhpur commented: ‘We replied that we are not insecure about any jail in Punjab, whereas we would be insecure about a jail outside of Punjab.

Furthermore, this issue wasn’t in jurisdiction of the NIA court, which extended only within Punjab. Manjhpur clearly stated that there is no provision in any Indian law that allows for a person who is under trial to be transferred between states. He pointed out that Transfer of Prisoners Act only allows for an individual to be transferred to their home state after their conviction, but there is no legal basis to transfer an individual currently under trial. The NIA admitted to this, but kept making an argument about Jagtar Singh’s own safety. However, Manjhpur and his team also had a judgement from the Supreme Court confirming the lack of legal provision to transfer him, as there are certain provisions for transfer if there are discipline issues but those do not relate to Jagtar Singh’s case.

Manjhpur and his team provided the court with a list of jails within Punjab, ranging from maximum security to minimum security, which Jagtar Singh could be transferred to, saying that if he was transferred to any of these they would not have any issue.

Speaking about the NIA’s motive, Manjhpur said: ‘The NIA have wrapped poison in sugar. They speak about our life and liberty but actually we understand our own security and we are safer here in Punjab. In fact, an individual charged with anti-RSS or other anti-other Hindu organisations killings is in more danger outside of Punjab.’ He added that in the last 30 years of cases related to Sikh political dissent there has never been an issue of safety or security in Punjab’s jails, in relation to the detainee being at risk.

Manjhpur said that if the NIA had real concerns about Jagtar Singh’s safety they should allow his release on bail, at which point they would not be responsible for ensuring his safety. Then, the responsibility of protecting Jagtar Singh would fall to his legal team.

Manjhpur was not impressed with this extra-judicial attempt by the NIA, commenting: ‘This is a political statement on behalf of the NIA, and the court has been misled. They also tried to overrule and supersede the court as well as putting undue pressure on it.’

The NIA was asked in court, under which provision the transfer application was filed. They could not provide a provision.  Then the NIA was asked under which jurisdiction the application had been filed, and they were unable to respond to that as well.

Hence, Manjhpur said: ‘We are confident that this appeal will be dismissed by the NIA court.’

Although the written application was based on Article 21, in court the NIA also started arguing that Jagtar Singh could become a flight risk, or that his companions could attack his jail. They did not make this argument in the written application. They said he couldn’t be kept in Nabha jail or Burail jail because there have been jail breaks from them. On this, Manjhpur said: ‘But this is true for Tihar jail as well – all of these jails have had jail breaks! If the jails aren’t secure then release these individuals on bail so that they can provide their own security. We also asked why are the NIA so particularly concerned about the safety of these 10 individuals? If they think that none of the jails in Punjab are secure then they should surely close them all down and take everybody in them to Delhi!

The court will rule on whether to transfer Jagtar Singh tomorrow.

 

NIA try to transfer Jagtar Singh out of Punjab

Today was Jagtar Singh’s 27th preliminary hearing after 103 days in custody without charge. Previously India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) had applied to transfer him to Tihar jail in New Delhi. The NIA said that this was because there currently exists ‘a desperate threat to the life/safety of the accused’ from the Hindu terror group RSS, overlooking the fact that RSS terrorists are also held in Tihar jail.

The defence counsel responded with the following points:

  • Nabha jail, where Jagtar Singh is currently being held, is a maximum security prison and if that was not suitable then there were other prisons in Punjab
  • If no jail could ensure the safety of Jagtar Singh then he should be granted bail and released as the Sikhs themselves would ensure Jagtar Singh’s safety
  • The NIA court does not have the jurisdiction to transfer a prisoner of Punjab, which the NIA, after questioning from the judge, admitted. In response it said that the application was due to ‘exceptional circumstances.’

 

The judge acknowledged that she had no jurisdiction and will issue a decision on the morning of 16th February.


 

14.02.18

Judge grants 90 day extension to Jagtar Singh’s remand

The judge today granted an extension of 90 days to Jagtar Singh’s remand, meaning that he can now be held for 180 days before being charged. This is despite the failure of any state agency to produce evidence against him even though the Chief Minister of Punjab declared months ago that they had all the evidence needed for a conviction.

Three new legal applications for a 90-day extension were also submitted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), most likely with the intention of frustrating the legal process and creating delay. The NIA have also been reluctant to provide a copy of the extension requests to Jagtar Singh’s lawyer – another instance of disregard for due process.

See further information on this story from Sikh Siyasat News here.

 


 

12.02.18

Press conference summary – Jagtar Singh reaches 100 days detained by Punjab Police

This morning, a media press conference was held to mark 100 days since the arbitrary detention of Jagtar Singh Johal. His brother Gurpreet Singh was joined by local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes and Josie Fathers from REDRESS, a charity that seeks justice for torture victims.

Gurpreet Singh described life since Jagtar Singh’s detention on 4th November 2017, saying that the life of his family has been ‘turned upside down.’ Last Friday, Jagtar Singh spent his birthday away from his family for the first time. Gurpreet Singh criticised the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), saying that they have known about Jagtar’s torture but have delayed investigating it, stating ‘extreme action was promised [by the FCO] but has not been delivered.’

To date, no evidence has been provided regarding the allegations against Jaggi and a charge sheet has still not been produced.

Josie Fathers of REDRESS, a charity that seeks justice for torture victims, said that the charity was seriously concerned about Jagtar Singh’s treatment in detention. She expressed concern that his treatment so far ‘raises further concerns about the chances of him being subjected to further torture and ill treatment.’

Jagtar Singh has still not met with British consular staff in private and the charity is especially concerned that his arbitrary detention could be potentially indefinite. REDRESS urged the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to intervene in the case in December 2017 but to date an independent medical examination of Jagtar Singh has not been conducted. His brother stated that as far as he is aware, the mental torture of Jagtar continues.

In response to a question comparing Jagtar’s case to other, more successful, cases of British national detained abroad, Gurpreet Singh simply replied ‘trade deals… that’s all they’re [the British government] concerned with.’

Echoing this, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP expressed concern that ‘there is clearly a lack of process.’ Josie Fathers further commented that there exists a real inconsistency in the government’s approach to the cases of Britons detained abroad: ‘It really takes a lot of work – campaigning – to get the FCO to act.’ Jaggi’s brother said that a changeover of caseworker, which has happened three times now, is particularly unhelpful to ensuring Jaggi’s wellbeing. Whenever a new caseworker is assigned ‘it’s like we’re going back to day one’ he said. Jagtar Singh has been classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the FCO but Gurpreet Singh was clear that the necessary action had not followed.

This case has had a far-reaching impact on the Sikh diaspora. Jaggi’s brother said ‘right now, today, I don’t think it’s safe for me to go [to India] and a lot of people in the Sikh community itself are scared of going back to India.’ Martin Docherty-Hughes MP also noted the sentiment among the Sikh community and the fear felt by threatened UK Sikhs.

It is meant to be the happiest time of his life, but Jagtar Singh has been detained for 100 days now and his wife is in hiding. His brother had a simple message for the Indian government: ‘If Jagtar has done anything, charge him […] if he’s not done anything, release him.’


10.02.18

#FreeJaggiNow team state push for 90 day extension proves Punjab Chief Minister lied

A push by the NIA (National Investigation Agency) to have Jagtar Singh’s stay in remand with them extended by 90 days has been called proof ‘there is no evidence’ against him and that Punjab Chief Minister ‘lied’.

The statement via the #FreeJaggiNow team is based on the fact Punjab CM Captain Amarinder claimed the Punjab Police already had evidence linking Jagtar Singh to criminal cases, stated at a press conference about the arrest on November 10th 2017. This statement led Captain Amarinder to claim they had outright ‘solved’ these cases.

Thus far, no evidence nor any official charge has been provided against Jagtar Singh.


09.02.18
Worldwide support for Jagtar Singh pours in on his birthday

Supporters of #FreeJaggiNow campaign flooded social media with messages of support on Jagtar Singh’s 31st birthday.

With Jagtar Singh set to reach 100 days in detention at the hands of Indian authorities without any charge or evidence about it provided, supporters have been vocal about their continuing concern on his situation. The date has only furthered the staunch support for the Scotsman, with the campaign leads promising to continue to take his issue to the British government and highlight the issue through the media.

 


08.02.18

NIA seek 90 day extension for Jagtar Singh’s stay on remand

Just six days after Jagtar Singh’s stay in detainment with Indian authorities reached 90 days, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) have applied for a 90 day extension on his stay in remand.

The news comes despite India’s UK deputy High Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik claim that after 90 days “Each case takes ninety days for investigation. That is the amount under the law that is… the investigating agencies are allowed. They cannot cross the ninety-day barrier.”

Read a full report on Sikh Siyasat News here.

 


02.02.18
#FreeJaggiNow call for ‘transparency’ from FCO following meeting

A parliament meeting saw Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh meeting with Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Mark Field yesterday afternoon.

Hosted by human rights org REDRESS, the meeting was based around their report, ‘Beyond Discretion The Protection of British Nationals Aboard From Torture and Ill- Treatment’ featuring insights into the cases of Andy Tsege, Nazanin Ratcliffe, and Jagtar Singh.

A Facebook post by the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign page stated:

‘We have called for openness and transparency in investigating the allegations of torture, which have been raised at the highest levels, in the British and Canadian parliaments, with British High Commissions in India and across the Sikh diaspora, and the UN Special Rapporteur, with the support of Sikh Sangat and panthic organisations, Redress, Ensaaf, and the lobbying efforts of FCO.’

 

Jagtar Singh reaches 90 days in detainment by Indian police WITHOUT charge

Scottish Sikh activist Jagtar Singh has now reached 90 days in detainment at the hands of Indian authorities, which UK High Commission of India deputy commissioner Dinesh Patnaik claims authorities ‘cannot cross’.

‘Each case takes ninety days for investigation. That is the amount under the law that is… the investigating agencies are allowed. They cannot cross the ninety-day barrier.’ Dinesh Patnaik said in an interview with the BBC Asian Network on January 8th of this year.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow are not expecting any immediate change to the situation, despite the claim by Dinesh Patnaik.

 


01.02.18

24th court hearing results in no progress in case

The 24th court hearing in 89 days of Jagtar Singh’s detainment by Indian authorities without charge saw him remain in judicial custody.

Supports of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain frustrated that no progress has been made on the case, with Jagtar Singh still not being charged, still not receiving an independent medical and still not being given a private meeting with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, despite repeated requests by the UK authorities.


31.01.18

London Mayor calls for Foreign Office to be ‘on the front foot’ regarding #FreeJaggiNow

The Mayor of London said it is ‘important’ Britain’s Foreign Office are ‘on the front foot’ to ensure the wellbeing of Jagtar Singh.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch of the Sikh War Memorial Campaign, Mayor Khan spoke on the situation of Jagtar Singh, who thousands of London Sikhs have been campaigning for. Jagtar Singh has been held since November 4th by Indian authorities without charge, whilst he has also reported torture.

‘The Scottish government are making representations to the Foreign Office in relation to that (Jagtar Singh’s case). As the Mayor of London my responsibilities are to make sure we have the greatest city in the world. If it is the case that members of the Sikh community are concerned about this Scottish British Sikh it is very important our Foreign Office make representations to the Indian government’ said Khan.

The Mayor went on to say he hopes Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will take on board the concerns raised, echoing the sentiment of #FreeJaggiNow supporters who have been left perplexed by the lack of comment on the situation from Johnson.

‘I would hope our Foreign Secretary would take on board the concerns raised, particularly concerns raised around abuse, that he has allegedly suffered in custody. It is really important our Foreign Office is on the front foot on these issues, he is a British citizen so we should make sure representations are made to the Indian government.’

 

 

Human Rights group launch report on protection of British nationals abroad based on #FreeJaggiNow campaign

Human Rights group Redress are looking at the UK government’s role in protecting the rights of UK nationals who have faced serious human rights violations abroad.

The group cite the #FreeJaggiNow campaign in their report, which is set to ‘push for changes to the UK law so there is a right to consular assistance and an obligation for the UK government to exercise diplomatic protection where UK nationals are at risk.’

See more info on the report here.


29.01.18

Jagtar Singh’s whereabouts UNKNOWN AGAIN

Just weeks after UK Labour MP Virendra Sharma and Indian High Commission deputy commissioner Dinesh Patnaik claimed Jagtar Singh’s family and UK authorities have always had access to him, the Scottish Sikh’s whereabouts is unknown again for the second time in just 12 days.

The official Facebook Free Jaggi Now campaign page, which sources information directly from Jagtar Singh’s family and legal team, revealed the news this morning, stating ‘Jaggi has been taken away from Nabha Jail by NIA once again without informing his legal team.’

The news is particularly concerning following a recent suicide of a man being pressured into being a witness for a crime under NIA investigation.

The current situation will only add to #FreeJaggiNow supporters’ feelings that the British government need to directly intervene in the situation. As of yet, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has not directly spoken on the incident, despite the fact that Scotsman Jagtar Singh has been detained since November 4th without charge and has reported being tortured. 


25.01.18

#FreeJaggiNow campaign team official statement on recent BBC coverage

The official #FreeJaggiNow campaign released a statement on recent BBC coverage on the story, suggesting it shows the news outlet have a ‘soft stance’ when it comes to being critical of the Indian states human rights breaches.

Sikh PA senior press officer said of the statement, ‘Jagtar Singh’s family and campaigners have every right to be dissatisfied with reporting which doesn’t make the situation regarding his detainment completely clear. We have seen some people who have clear links to the Indian state near pressure interviewers into accepting their stance as the factual stance in regards to the case.

‘Many feel that Jagtar Singh is largely facing trial by media in India, started by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder in the first press conference after his original detainment in early November. With this in mind, it is vital British media help provide an accurate narrative on the case, lest the Indian authorities use a warped perception of Jagtar Singh’s situation to justify their detainment of him without any charge.’

See the full statement here.


24.01.18

Jagtar Singh family worried after NIA accused of causing a suicide

The family of Jagtar Singh are worried after recent news broke of a man committing suicide after persistent pressure from the NIA to be a witness in a murder case.

Being referred to only as Rampal, the 55 year old Khanna resident was seen jumping off a bridge before his lifeless body was later pulled out. His family have been open in stating to Indian media that callous tactics from the NIA (National Investigation Agency) to force him to act as a witness to a murder that he stated he did not see led to his death.

See the full story and quotes via Sikh Siyasat News.


23.01.18

Court appearance cancelled for Jagtar Singh

A court appearance scheduled for Jagtar Singh on January 22nd was cancelled due to the fact the NIA placed him back in jail and out of police custody earlier than necessary.

The NIA (National Investigation Agency) were given the freedom to detain the 30 year old Scotsman for five days from January 17th. However, after the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) questioned them on Jagtar Singh’s whereabouts, having been prompted to do so by his family who had no idea of his location, the NIA placed him back in Nabha Jail on January 19th.

The overall situation for Jagtar Singh remains the same, with no official charge filed for any of his alleged crimes, nor any independent medical arranged and not even a private meeting with British High Commission reps allowed.

 


19.01.18

NIA send Jagtar Singh back to Nabha Jail, out of police remand custody

After applying for five days of police custody remand, the NIA (National Investigation Agency) have released Jagtar Singh early, placing him back into Nabha Jail.

The move comes after questioning from the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to the NIA regarding the whereabouts of Jagtar Singh, after he was placed back in police custody as the result of a court hearing where he had no legal representation. His family were then once again not informed of his whereabouts until the FCO found out on their behalf.

See a full report on this story via Sikh Siyasat News.

Jagtar Singh’s family forced to contact FCO to find out his whereabouts

The family of Scottish Sikh Jagtar Singh needed to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to find out where he was being held after the NIA took him to an undisclosed location.

The worrying situation came about after the NIA (National Investigation Agency) held a court hearing where Jagtar Singh did NOT have legal representation present, leading to the 30 year old being taken back into police custody.

Only after Jagtar Singh’s family asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to intervene did they find out his location, with the NIA telling the FCO that Jagatar Singh is being held in an NIA facility in Mohali.

A Facebook post from the official Free Jaggi Now team stated, ‘Jaggi’s lawyers have been prevented from meeting him and have not been able to confirm his exact location due to the interference of the NIA and their refusal to comply with due process and the law. This is highly alarming as Jaggi is at further risk of torture.’


17.01.18

BREAKING – NIA refer Jagtar Singh back to police custody after court hearing WITHOUT legal representation

Jagtar Singh has been put back into police remand once again.

NIA officers took Jaggi from Nabha jail and presented him before a duty magistrate in Mohali without legal representation.

According to the #FreeJaggiNow team, ‘Jagtar Singh’s lawyer was deliberately not informed of this abrupt and unscheduled court appearance’, stated in a Facebook post which also stated ‘In a clear sign of bias/incompetence the duty judge did not even ask why Jaggi has been presented in court without legal representation.

Jagtar Singh has been remanded into police custody until the 22nd of January.

For a full news report, please see https://sikhsiyasat.net/2018/01/17/nia-quietly-gets-police-remand-jagtar-singh-johal-6-days-no-legal-representation/.

#FreeJaggiNow

 


16.01.18

#FreeJaggiNow supporters await promise of ‘extreme action’ after British Government recognise Jagtar Singh was tortured

Case also discussed with Indian minister Kiren Rijiju during his recent visit…where he also called for banning of Sikh group exposing Indian state human rights breaches

 

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement confirmed they recognise Jagtar Singh’s reports of torture by Punjab Police and the issue was brought up during a recent meeting with India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs.

The confirmation has led to calls from supporters of the campaign to see the British government immediately act upon a promise of ‘extreme action’ upon recognising the torture of Jagtar Singh, who has been detained by Punjab Police since November 4th.

The update from the Head of Prisoner Policy and Human Rights Team at the FCO read, ‘Staff were able to discuss torture and mistreatment allegations… Jagtar said that he was physically mistreated during the period 4-7 November, when he was first detained.

 

British authorities highlightedconcerns that Jagtar was being kept in handcuffs for 24 hours a day, and is being kept in isolation’

 

The same statement went on to say, ‘On 15 December a Note Verbale was submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs, raising the allegations, and requesting that a prompt, independent and impartial investigation be undertaken into the allegations. It also expressed our concerns that Jagtar was being kept in handcuffs for 24 hours a day, and is being kept in isolation.’

The statement sent to the campaign team also added that the case was raised ‘…with the visiting Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs (Kiren Rijiju), stressing the importance of the welfare of a British national and being able to continue providing consular assistance.’

Shamsher Singh of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign team said of the latest update, ‘The FCO has confirmed from Jaggi what we have told them since day one; that Punjab Police routinely use torture and violate due process. We provided the FCO with a sworn affidavit from Jaggi’s lawyer outlining the exact nature of the torture during a meeting with FCO staff on 16th November.’

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign will be encouraged by the words of the FCO, especially regarding meeting with Indian Minister Kiren Rijiju, who allegedly called for the banning of the Sikh Federation UK in an outrageous suggestion, showing the desperation of the Indian state to cover up the exposing of their human rights breaches.

As well as the direct confirmation from Jagtar Singh and an affidavit from his lawyer Jaspal Singh, the FCO are also being made aware that human rights groups Redress and Ensaaf have also brought the issue of Jagtar Singh’s torture to the UN, creating a plethora of supportive statements to indicate the unlawful treatment of the Scottish Sikh at the hands of Indian authorities.

 

‘I have no faith in the system’ – Gurpreet Singh

 

‘Human rights groups Redress and Ensaaf have raised the torture allegations to the UN special rapporteur. Despite repeated attempts by consular staff and petitions by Jaggi’s lawyers for an independent medical, along with the FCO on three occasions raising their concerns about “cursory medical examinations”, no independent medical has been allowed by the Indian courts. Now we await what ‘extreme measures’ the British government will take’ added Shamsher Singh.

Gurpreet Singh, Jagtar Singh’s brother, remains frustrated about the lack of urgency shown in response to these revelations, echoing the concern of his family’s local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes in highlighting an underlying belief that Britain’s trade relationship with India could be the reason why Scotsman Jagtar Singh is not getting the support needed and expected from his government.

‘Despite Jagtar being declared Vulnerable on 16th November 2017, the FCO have failed to investigate the allegations of torture. The FCO have bought time to delay matters. I am seriously concerned that the British Government are more worried about a relationship with India than providing its citizen his basic human rights.  Any trial Jagtar may face has been prejudiced due to the case becoming a trial by media. I have no faith in the system’ said Gurpreet Singh.

 

12.01.18

India High Commission exposed for inaccurate statements on #FreeJaggiNow case

The UK India High Commission was embarrassed today after it’s deputy high commissioner was exposed for inaccurate and misleading statements made about the case of Jagtar Singh.

The statements were made during a BBC Asian Network radio interview when presenter Nomia Iqbal was questioning commissioner Dinesh Patnaik.

See a breakdown of the inaccuracies here.

Sikh PA press officer Jasveer Singh said of the interview, ‘A lot of the narrative from Indian state officials surrounding the Jagtar Singh situation is warped and purposely twisted to paint him as guilty, without any official charge or trial. It is saddening to see the UK India High Commission follow this trend.’

 


09.01.18

Jagtar Singh’s MP asks whether British government inaction so far represents a ‘Faustian pact’

Martin Docherty-Hughes, Jagtar Singh’s MP, asked the Foreign Office Minister in Parliament during Foreign and Commonwealth Oral Questions today whether the case of Jagtar Singh’s detention represented a ‘Faustian pact’ between Britain and India ‘in which we sacrifice our defence of due process to arbitrary detention on the altar of free-marketeer-ism?’

Mark Field the Foreign Office Minister replied that he did not think that ‘that is the case at all,’ praising Docherty-Hughes for his steadfast approach to Jagtar Singh’s detention. He confirmed that British consular staff visited Jagtar Singh in custody on 28th December and were scheduled to do so on 11th January.


05.01.18

#FreeJaggiNow campaign supports worldwide ban on Indian officials on gurdwara stages

The #FreeJaggiNow campaign has welcomed calls for a worldwide ban on Indian government officials from gurdwaras by Sikh Federation UK. A statement from the campaign said:

‘We welcome the call for a worldwide ban on Indian government officials visiting Gurdwareh in their official capacity by the Sikh Federation U.K. For far too long Indian government officials have interfered, attempted to undermine and intimidate Sikh communities by manipulating community sentiments through unscrupulous links with individual Gurdwara committee members.

This call seeks to formalise bans that have existed in Gurdwareh all over the world since the covert declaration of war by the Indian government against the Sikh nation in June 1984. The Indian military launched a full scale military invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex and attacks on Gurdwareh all over India to suppress rising Sikh agitations and a movement for greater autonomy for Sikhs within their indigenous homeland of Punjab. The genocide that followed across India saw the most severe violence in states that had congress party majorities.

From 1984 to 1995, Indian government officials operated with impunity, using torture, mass illegal arrests, mass rapes and extrajudicial murders to repress and erase the dissent of a generation. This saw Sikhs leave their demands for greater autonomy within India behind, demanding nothing short of full succession, and the creation of a completely sovereign Sikh homeland, Khalistan.

The formalisation of the ban against Indian government officials has taken place in Gurdwareh in Australia, London and the Midlands (U.K), the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia, Canada. We look forward to more and more Gurdwareh in the diaspora formalising this ban. Indian officials have always faced severe resistance when utilising Gurdwareh stages in Indian occupied Punjab.

Since Jagtar Singh Johal’s transfer to Nabha Jail, and due to all of our collective campaigning, and the ‘high level’ lobbying of the British government, the treatment Jagtar receives continues to improve.

Jagtar has been handed a letter by consular staff, written by the campaign team, in which we have apprised him of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, Jagtar Singh has said he is in Chardikala (the ever rising Sikh spirit, through the grace of Guru Granth Guru Panth), and is aware of all of our efforts and thankful for all the support.

Yesterday Jagtar met his wife for the first time in 2 months, Jaggi said he was being treated well currently, and that during the first 10 days of his illegal detention (in an undisclosed location) he was severely tortured. We continue to pursue a thorough investigation for the Indian security services officials responsible for the horrendous abuse to be held accountable, and Jagtar’s unconditional release.’


04.01.18

Jagtar Singh meets wife for first time in two months 

Today Jagtar Singh Johal met with his wife for the first time in two months. He said to her that he was currently being treated well but that during the first 10 days of his illegal detention (in an undisclosed location) he was severely tortured.


02.01.18

Jagtar Singh transferred into judicial custody 

At his 20th court appearance, Jagtar Singh was sent into judicial custody at Nabha Maximum Security Jail in Punjab after 59 days in police custody. However, he has still not been charged and no evidence was presented against him. Jagtar Singh continues to be denied private consular access and he has still not had an independent medical examination to investigate his torture.

His family hope that this transfer from police to judicial custody will reduce the likelihood of him being tortured and increase the possibility that he shall be allowed private consular access. Preet Kaur Gill MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs reiterated that she, along with Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, will be requesting a private meeting between Jagtar Singh and British consular officials.

A statement from the #FreeJaggiNow campaign said:

‘This is a major milestone in Jaggi’s case, regardless we will continue to press the Indian government, with the assistance of the Sikh Sangat, British public, Redress, Ensaaf, and the British government so that a thorough and independent investigation into the torture Jaggi was subjected to can take place.

We continue to pursue Jaggi’s unconditional release. It is vital to remember that Jaggi has undergone cruel and inhumane treatment, has not been charged with any offence, and has had his human rights violated. The fundamental legal principle of modern democracies: innocent until proven guilty, has been violated, not only in Jaggi’s treatment but also through his portrayal in nationalist Indian media outlets.

Jaggi is innocent of any crime, yet has been in the custody of Indian security services since his illegal arrest on the 4th of November 2017. We want nothing short of freedom for Jaggi.

We will be closely monitoring the situation and the conditions in which Jaggi is kept.

In Chardikala (The ever rising Sikh spirit through the grace of the Guru).’


29.12.17

Jagtar Singh’s brother urges support for Early Day Motion 661 regarding his brother’s detention 

Jagtar Singh Johal’s brother Gurpreet Singh has provided an update on his brother’s condition. In it he reiterated that no charges had been brought against him. Another solicitor has been instructed to assist Jagtar Singh’s current laywer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur.

Gurpreet Singh added that it now appeared as if Indian authorities were trying to force a confession out of Jagtar Singh because of the lack of material they had found in the house raids on 27th December.

Gurpreet Singh commented that Early Day Motion 661 regarding the detention of Jagtar Singh (https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/661)  had only 61 signatures and urged people to contact their MP and ask them to sign it.

 


 

27.12.17

NIA raids homes of Jagtar Singh’s family 

Jagtar Singh’s mother and father in law’s house was today raided by NIA agents, who spent 3-4 hours turning the house upside down. Documents from the house were taken by the NIA which did not at all relate to Jagtar Singh. They also questioned Jagtar Singh’s wife, who had been in hiding since 5th November. She answered the NIA questions, but she is now safe although currently in hiding again. The NIA also raided the family home of Jagtar Singh today, despite having already raided it immediately after his detention and on the day of his grandmother’s funeral.

 


 

26.12.17 

Jagtar Singh presented in court – his lawyer protests at unfair treatment

Jagtar Singh was presented in court for the 19th time, with still no charge or evidence produced. A lawyer was denied access to meet Jagtar Singh while he was in NIA custody and the court order for Jagtar Singh’s medical examination to be conducted at the Civil Hospital in Mohali (Punjab) was ignored by the NIA. The vocational judge who oversaw today’s hearing did not have Jagtar Singh’s case file and was unable to hold the NIA accountable for ignoring court orders and their failure to provide a reply to medical concerns, namely the allegations of torture from Jagtar Singh’s legal team. Advocate Barjinder Singh Sodhi was also added to Jagtar Singh’s legal team.

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, stressed how the judiciary in Punjab was willing to accommodate NIA requests, such as moving Jagtar Singh’s next hearing from 26th December to 2nd January 2018. This request had been made because the NIA was due for a separate hearing on that day and having both hearings on the same day would be convenient for the NIA. Jaspal Singh Manjhpur further added that Jagtar Singh was taken to Delhi on 23rd December and brought straight to the NIA court hearing today from Delhi.

Both Jaspal Singh Manjhpur and Barjinder Singh Sodhi observed that the prolonged period of police remand had severe affected Jagtar Singh’s psychological wellbeing, and advocated that he be assessed by senior medical doctors and psychiatrists to determine his physical and mental states. Jagtar’s legal team presented to the court hearing that their observations needed responding to before Jagtar Singh’s remand was further extended but the court did not respond to this, with the judge saying ‘I don’t have time to listen to the defence application.’

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur made a direct appeal to the British Government, saying that they needed to raise with their Indian counterpart the fact that a British citizen was subject to the conditions outlined above and that was not being treated fairly. Despite a court order, the British High Commission have not been able to meet Jagtar Singh in private yet.


23.12.17.

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer protests at ongoing flaws in investigation

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, in a media appearance today, outlined two points that he raised in court yesterday. He said that the NIA were using the same tactic as the Punjab Police did in extending Jagtar Singh’s police remand. Despite the claim that the NIA would produce more sophisticated evidence gathering techniques, no evidence had yet been presented in court. He also stated his concern that section 41D CRPC – which allows an individual under interrogation to meet with their defence counsel – was not being complied with in Jagtar Singh’s case. He did meet Jagtar Singh yesterday but for less than five minutes and while in the presence of at least 8 NIA and Punjab Police officers. Jagtar Singh’s family have maintained since his detention that revealing the details of his torture while in the presence of the Punjab Police/NIA would only jeopardise him further.

Jaspal Singh Manjhpur added that Jagtar Singh needed to be taken to an appropriate medical institution for a medical examination by independent and senior doctors, including a psychologist and psychiatrist, and that a cursory medical while Jagtar Singh was detained inside a police van was not acceptable. He said that from his meeting with Jagtar Singh it was evident that he was suffering psychologically from the nature of his detention and his subjection to mental torture. Furthermore, he made an application to the NIA special court, under sections 54/55A, reminding it that the NIA has a responsibility for the health of safety of Jagtar Singh.


 

22.12.17

Application for Independent medical granted for Jagtar Singh

An application for an independent medical for Jagtar Singh has been acepted by Indian courts, with a hearing on it set for December 26th.

The news comes nearly a month after the British High Commission made the request and weeks after another court set a hearing for March 2018.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), who took over the case from Punjab Police as of last week, will be facilitating the medical. The application was made after Jagtar Singh’s lawyer Jaspal Singh once again pushed for Indian authorities to accept due care of the 30 year old Scotsman’s condition, including a psychiatric evaluation.

Whilst the decision will be welcomed by many, the fact it has come over a month since the initial reports of torture were made will not appease the concerns for Jagtar Singh’s safety whilst he is being detained, nor the likelihood of the medical leading to progress on the case or from UK authorities in regards to intervention.

 

Court officially places Jagtar Singh in judicial custody…but still no charge

Despite the NIA (National Investigation Agency) taking hold of the case, the cyclical nature of Jagtar Singh’s court hearings in India continued.

Today in a court in Mohali Jagtar Singh was placed in judicial custody on ‘transtit remand’ for four days, granted based on an application for 12 days by the NIA which was rejected by the court judge. Jaspal Singh, lawyer for the 30 year old Scot, claimed the NIA were attempting to use the same delay tactics that the Punjab Police have been using.

Familiarly, no actual charge was placed on Jagtar Singh, and as of yet no FIR (First Incident Report) has been shown to name him either.

 


19.12.17

Jagtar Singh transferred to National Investigation Agency (NIA) custody

As part of an increasingly familiar routine, Jagtar Singh was presented to a court in Mohali, Punjab this morning for his 17th court appearance since he was detained on November 4th. He has still not been charged, nor has a FIR (First Information Request) been filed naming him in conjunction with the crimes he is accused of.

India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) requested that his police remand be extended for 12 more days. The court partially met this request, extending Johal’s remand by three days and, crucially, transferring Jagtar Singh into the custody of the NIA.

BBC journalist Arvind Chhabra claimed that he spoke to Balwinder Singh, Jagtar Singh’s father-in-law, who said that Jagtar Singh said that he was fine, but Balwinder Singh added that Jagtar Singh’s response was expected given that he was surrounded by NIA agents.

Speaking with Jagtar Singh’s father-in-law directly, regarding his son-in-law’s condition, Balwinder Singh showed his clear frustration with his short response in Punjabi, which translates as ‘How do you think he is feeling after spending 45 days in Punjab Police custody? Given how long he has been in custody, he will have gone half mad with all of the questioning by Punjab police.’

Following reports of Jagtar Singh being handcuffed 24 hours a day and left in isolation, supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain steadfast in their attempts to have UK authorities intervene.

 


18.12.17

Anti-torture human rights group call on UN intervention on Jagtar Singh case

Human rights organisation REDRESS today filed an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, “Jaggi”.

Working in conjunction with Ensaaf, a Sikh ethos human rights and legal advocacy charity who are most known for their work exposing ‘fake encounters’ killings of Sikhs, REDRESS are urging the Special Rapporteur on Torture to call on the Indian Government to ensure that Mr Johal is protected from further torture and ill-treatment; is provided with an immediate independent medical examination and any needed physical and psychological medical care; and is permitted private, unsupervised visits with his lawyers and British consular staff. They also request an independent investigation into the alleged torture while in police custody.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign are welcoming this timely statement, as news of Jagtar Singh being detained in handcuffs for 24 hours and in isolation reach the public.

Read a full statement from REDRESS on this issue here.

 


17.12.17

Jagtar Singh given ANOTHER extension on stay in police custody..but STILL no charge

In his 16th court appearance in 44 days, Jagtar Singh was given yet another extension on his stay in police custody at a magistrate court today.

Jagtar Singh, who has been detained by Punjab Police since November 4th without any official charge made against him, nor had an FIR (First Information Request) shown to name him, was given a two day extension and is set to appear in court again on December 19th. Whether this will be in a Khanna court (a city in the district of Ludhiana) is not yet known.

Following reports of Jagtar Singh being handcuffed 24 hours a day and left in isolation, supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain steadfast in their attempts to have UK authorities intervene.

 


16.12.17

 

Calls for minister to resign following suggestion tortured prisoner is ‘fine’

A suggestion by Foreign Office Minister Mark Field that Jagtar Singh is ‘fine’ has led to the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) calling for his resignation.

The suggestion comes after MP Preet Kaur, Chair of the Sikh All party Parliamentary Group, along with Jagtar Singh’s local MP Martin Docherty of Dumbartin, both responded critically to Field’s suggestion, which was made in a letter responding to questions made by the likes of Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi.

SFUK called Field’s comments ‘reckless’, echoing Preet Kaur’s suggestion Field should apologise, before adding ‘we would go one further and suggest he has been negligent’ and calling for his resignation.

See their full statement here.

 


15.12.17

Jagtar Singh given two more days in remand in 15th court appearance

The case of Jagtar Singh repeated a familiar pattern as once again a Punjab magistrate court judge extended his stay in police custody remand, without an official charge put forward against him.

A request for 10 days extension of his stay in remand with Khanna police was rejected by the judge, with only two days granted. However, the cycle of injustice continues to frustrate supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, especially with the British High Commission still failing to get a private meeting with Jagtar Singh, nor arrange a private medical, a hearing for which has been set for March 2018.

News from the campaign team also stated Jagtar Singh was being kept isolated and in handcuffs 24 hours a day. Friends and family also feel he looks ‘distressed’ when appearing in court, contradicting the claim made by the Foreign Office that he was ‘fine’, a suggestion which infuriated supporters, given the fact British officials are yet to meet him privately, nor medically examine him.

The campaign team will be escalating the situation with the Foreign Office in the hope to push forward with moves to have Indian authorities actually provide some evidence for their claims. Thus far all media accusations of Jagtar Singh’s involvement in criminal activities have been self-admittedly ‘inadmissible in court’, leading to accusations of him being on ‘media trial’, with these claims being the only real justification for his detainment without charge.


14.12.17

Breakdown of latest ‘confession’ by Jagtar Singh

Indian news outlet News18 yesterday claimed to have more information from a ‘confession’ by Jagtar Singh, which similarly to the India Today piece, was full of complete fabrications, highly flawed and breached the Scottish Sikh’s legal rights.

The news piece claimed Jagtar Singh met Taljeet Singh, also referred to as Jimmy, at a Gurdwara in the UK, where plans were made to arrange the murders of so-called Hindu leaders in Punjab. However, Jagtar Singh was shown on camera to actually say nothing of this nature.

News 18 claimed that Jagtar Singh was confessing to sending a document to others, created for the targeted killings, involving funding, the arrangement of a pistol, and a hitman. In the video ‘confession’ Jagtar Singh only spoke about speaking with and meeting other Sikhs, who praised him for his work in translating articles from English to Punjabi. The news report also breached many legalities of the case, as Jagtar Singh’s lawyer has detailed (see article below).

Sikh Press Association press officer Jasveer Singh said of the report, ‘It is actually incredible the Indian media can put such things out and still be viewed as in any way credible. Imagine a UK media outlet putting a video out of someone saying something, yet reporting he had said something else completely. They would rightfully be ridiculed and dismissed as a credible source. This is how all should also view these media organisations – India Today and News18 – in their coverage of the Jagtar Singh case.

‘We will continue to reach out to both to see if they would like to work with us so we can push for some accurate and fair coverage. Thus far, Jagtar Singh is facing trial by media and they have already damned him as a terrorist. We hope UK authorities intervene as soon as they can, because even without charge or trial, the Indian media are portraying Jagtar Singh as guilty.’

 

Punjab Police prevent Jagtar meeting with his lawyer as NIA take over case

In a move guaranteed to bring more concern about the human rights breaches of the Punjab Police, Jagtar Singh was prevented from meeting his lawyer yesterday.

According to Sikh Siyasat news, lawyer Jaspal Singh was prevented from seeing his client after the NIA (National Investigation Agency) took control of the case. For quotes and more, see the full article from Sikh Siyasat here.

 

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer rips apart TV ‘confession’

Jaspal Singh, lawyer of Jagtar Singh, highlighted the many flaws and and legal discrepancies of the TV so-called confessions of the 30 year old Scotsman.

Stating that videos were recorded in police custody, in unknown conditions and without legal representation, and are inadmissible in court according to the Indian Evidence Act, Jaspal Singh further stated that the history of Punjab police regarding torture and duress is well documented in regards to extracting forced confessions.

Key points from his response included:

  • Confessions in police custody not admissible in court.
  • Well documented history of police abuse undermines credibility of confessions during interrogation.
  • No recovery of evidence has been made or presented to courts as a result of interrogation.
  • Leaking of “exclusive” footage to the media raises serious concerns about the motivations of investigating agencies and police.
  • No information in the videos substantiates the allegations.

Section 25 Indian Evidence Act 1872:
No confession made to a police-officer, shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence.

These points were made on the #FreeJaggiNow official Facebook page, based on a video Jaspal Singh made, which can be seen here.

 


13.12.17

‘Foreign Office are more concerned about trade relations with India’ – Sikh Federation UK

The Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) accused the Foreign Office of ‘dumbing down’ responses to questions on the case of Jagtar Singh, suggesting they are are ‘more concerned about trade relations with India than the illegal detention and torture of an innocent British citizen’.

The NGO Sikh ethos political advocacy group released the statement under the heading ‘Foreign Office under pressure not to repeat the same mistakes as in the Chennai Six case’, citing the written parliamentary question raised by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough Labour MP, as well as the Early Day Motion put forward on the issue.

The statement comes after supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow aired frustration about the fact British authorities are unable to arrange a private meeting with Jagtar Singh, nor an independent medical for the 30 year old Scotsman who has been detained for 37 days without charge by Punjab Police whilst reporting torture.

See the full statement here.

 


12.12.17

Supporters shocked Foreign Office claim Jagtar is ‘fine’, without a private meeting or medical

A letter sent out to Preet Kaur and other MPs from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the case of Jagtar Singh claimed he is ‘fine’, despite reports of his torture.

After Jagtar Singh reported torture to his lawyer upon the first chance he got in early November, the British High Commission (BHC) were pushed into agreeing to request a private meeting with the 30 year old Scotsman and also arranging an independent medical for him. However, the BHC have been unable to do either, yet still remarkably claimed in the letter Jagtar was ‘fine’, coming from spokesman Mark Field.

 

UK Government trying to get out of ‘extreme action’ promise – Sikh Federation UK

The Sikh Federation UK stated #FreeJaggiNow campaigners are ‘questioning the effectiveness’ of the Foreign Office, three weeks since an official claimed there would be ‘extreme action’ regarding Jagtar Singh’s claims of torture.

In a press release, Edgbaston Labour MP Preet Kaur stated, ‘We can not afford a repeat of the delay…in getting the release of the Chennai Six’, echoing the sentiment of supporters who feel immediate intervention is required.

See the full statement here.

 


11.12.17

In 14th court appearance in 37 days, Jagtar Singh re-arrested AGAIN back into police custody

British Sikh Jagtar Singh was presented before a Ludhiana magistrate court judge today and was referred to judicial custody, only to be re-arrested and placed immediately back in police custody.

The latest arrest comes from Khanna police and is related to another murder of a Hindu leader. Remaining consistent throughout, once again Punjab Police did not put forward any actual charge, nor any FIR (First Incident Report) which names him in relation to a crime.

Supporters and social commentators with knowledge on Punjab’s legal system believe the state police are doing all they can to ensure a long and uncomfortable spell in detainment for Jagtar Singh, without needing to provide any real evidence that he has committed a crime.

The 30 year old Scot is once again going to appear in court in four days. A similar outcome is expected, especially after Indian media have openly portrayed Jagtar Singh as a terrorist, meaning an embarrassment for the Punjab Police should he be released any time soon.  This has reinforced calls for immediate intervention from British authorities by supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow team.

See a report from Punjab by Sikh Siyasat News here.

 

 


10.12.17

 

Sikh activist group ask why Delhi High Court will not allow Amnesty International to examine Punjab issues

Dal Khalsa today questioned what Indian authorities were hiding by not allowing human rights groups like Amnesty International the full ability to examine issues in Punjab.

Citing many examples, including the current #FreeJaggiNow case, the group slammed the actions of the state which sees it continue to ignore calls from British authorities for simple requests for Jagtar Singh, such as allowing him a private meeting with British High Commission staff and granting him an independent medical to look into reports of torture.

See more on this here via Sikh Siyasat News.

 

Indian MP dares Indian government to prove claims of ISI Pakistan link to Jagtar Singh case

Criticising the Punjab Police for allegedly failing to ensure fair trial of UK national Jagtar Singh, Aam Aadmi Party’s Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi on Sunday dared Indian authorities to prove the ISI hand behind the crimes linked to the 30 year old Scotsman.

“I don’t say that ISI or Pakistan cannot be involved in this game. But if there is a reality in this claim, the government should prove it,” said Gandhi, while talking to the media on the sidelines of a seminar on drugs, in Amritsar.

Jagtar Singh has been detained without charge since November 4th by Punjab Police. Captain Amarinder, Punab Chief Minister, claimed his arrest saw eight murders solved, in relation to a link with ISI and a plan to destabilise Punjab. These claims have not yet been backed up with any evidence, which is why Gandhi has asked the Indian government to prove their claims.


09.12.17

 

Jagtar Singh’s lawyer speaks out on ‘character assassination’ by Indian media

Jaspal Singh, lawyer for Jagtar Singh, spoke out about the India Today coverage on his client today, claiming it was ‘character assassination by the media, investigation agencies and the government‘, in an interview shared by the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign.

The six minute video – available to watch here – has Jaspal Singh detailing many issues with the coverage by India Today, which saw a series of mistakes and blatant manipulation by the presenting team, including;

  • Showing pictures of random UK Sikhs in Pakistan, claiming they met with ISI officers, which turned out to be a meeting of historians regarding Sikh history in Pakistan.
  • Claiming Jagtar Singh had been to Dubai for terror training, when he has never been there.
  • Stating Jagtar Singh had confessed to being involved in terror plots, whilst only showing clips of him detailing translating articles/speeches from English to Punjabi.

Jaspal Singh stated the video has ‘no authenticity to it‘ as a confession, which was admitted by the Gaurav C Sawant the India Today presenter, who said once during a 20minute segment that the so-called confession was ‘inadmissible in court’.

Jaspal Singh also openly claimed ‘what they (media and investigation agencies) are doing is against the rule of law…even Indian law’.

 

Sikh Federation UK calls Britain ‘powerless’ to prevent abuse of Jagtar Singh

A press release by the Sikh Federation UK claimed ‘Britain appears powerless’ to stop abuses of Jagtar Singh’s human rights, as the 30 year old remains detained without charge by Punjab Police.

The release came after an India Today news segment on the #FreeJaggiNow case was widely criticised for being full of mistakes and showing clear bias. The press release goes on to state ‘The family of Jagtar Singh will now be demanding the Foreign Office issue a strongly worded public statement challenging the false narrative to date by the Indian authorities and stopping them spreading misinformation.’

See the full release here.


08.12.17

 

‘Jagtar Singh is being demonised by Indian media, just as I have been': British Sikh called a ‘terrorist’ on Indian TV speaks out

A British Sikh has spoken out after India Today callously labelled him a ‘terrorist’ based on nothing more than a picture.

Yesterday evening India Today, one of India’s most respected media outlets, aired a news segment deemed as highly flawed and biased in relation to the Jagtar Singh case. During this segment images of Sikhs were shown with an alleged ‘Pakistan ISI Officer’, exclaimed by news presenter Gaurav C Sawant.

The images were completely unexplained, with nothing added to the context of the picture or the individuals. Sikh PA can exclusively reveal that one of the Sikhs pictured is Bobby Singh, a married father from the midlands.

Bobby Singh said on seeing his image broadcasted by Indian media, ‘The accusations I am a terrorist or linked with Pakistan ISI are a load of nonsense. India Today haven’t even tried to name us in the news segment and have not explained why we were there. They should be checking sources but that kind of media coverage is what organisations like India Today can get away with in India. Unfortunately, people believe it.

‘I was there in 2012 during Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurab (Guru’s celebration – for Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday) to visit Nankana Sahib (Sikh historic Gurdwara in the town Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born). There, due to my open interest in Sikh history, we went to meet the head of the Dyal Singh Majetia Trust, a history organization named after the famed Sikh activist and founder of the Punjab National Bank. This happened to be Ihsan H Nadiem. In the image shared he is presenting us with a set of books on Sikh-Pakistani history, and that’s all. This is the only time I have met him.

“I would like to find out who they got the pictures from. It’s been terrible to see me linked with terrorism based on a picture taken five years ago. I have had family members straight away saying to me ‘don’t go to India’. Even my wife and children don’t want to go now. Before all this we thought we have a British passport, we are safe, but now with this Jagtar Singh case, we don’t feel that way anymore.

‘Seeing what they have done here has only added to my belief that everything against Jagtar Singh is fabricated and he is being demonised for nothing, just as I have been by Indian media.’

For more information or to speak directly with anyone involved, please email Media@SikhPA.com.

 

Indian media claim Jagtar Singh confesses to terrorism…then show video of him detailing writing articles

In a strange turn of events, one of India’s biggest media outlets claimed to have a ‘confession’ from Jagtar Singh regarding involvement in terror activities, and then went on to show a clip of him talking about translating Punjabi articles into English.

The news segment by India Today has shocked many for its clearly flawed and biased approach to the news story involving Jagtar Singh. Whilst presenter of the segment Gaurav C Sawant stated once during the news clip that the confessions were ‘inadmissible as evidence in a court of law’ he went on to use it to portray Jagtar Singh as a ‘suspected Khalistani terrorist’, whilst still no official charge has been made.

Guest commentator on the show Manjeet Negi claimed Jagtar Singh confessed to being involved in terror plots but nothing of this kind was shown to be said by the 30-year-old Scotsman from Dumbarton. Instead, Jagtar Singh is seen on video saying ‘My interest in 1984 (Sikh genocide)… came from seeing speeches by Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale’ before the clip ended with Jagtar stating ‘I translated articles from Punjabi to English.’

The India Today news segment has added to concerns that Jagtar Singh is facing trial by media. The videos, which were said to have been shared by the Punjab Police, added to the outlandish statements from Captain Amarinder the Chief Minister of Punjab who claimed in a press conference that eight murders had been solved upon Jagtar Singh’s arrest, which supporters feel mean the British Sikh will never receive a fair trial in India.

A statement from the official #FreeJaggiNow campaign team shared on social media stated, ‘We are appalled and shocked about the way in which Indian police are conducting and providing investigatory interviews…This is an outrage and serious questions need to be raised by the UK government direct to India.’

Part of the segment showed images of unidentified Sikhs with their faces circled whilst Sawant proclaimed these were suspected terrorists, without naming them or saying why they are terrorists. Sikh PA can exclusively reveal these images are from a meeting between UK Sikhs and Pakistani historian Ihsan H Nadiem in 2012, who is described as a ‘Pakistan ISI officer’ in the news report. The meeting took place in Pakistan and was based around sharing information and resources regarding the history of Pakistan, which has a strong Sikh heritage. At the time, Nadiem was the head of the Dyal Singh Majetia Trust, famed Sikh activist and founder of the Punjab National Bank.

India Today also showed a separate video clip of Taljit Singh, also referred to as Jimmy Singh, who was also arrested in relation to the cases Jagtar Singh is implicated in. In this video clip Jimmy Singh claims Jagtar Singh was involved with alleged terror activities, although this ‘confession’ is still inadmissible in court, leading to Sawant stating police are still seeking ‘corroborative evidence’.

The segment also mentioned an ‘encrypted mobile software and chat application service’ being used by those involved, not mentioning it is the massively popular whatsapp mobile app, in an attempt to make this fact sound more heinous than it really is. A claim that Jagtar Singh has been to Dubai in the video was also denied by the family, who state he has never even been to the country.

India Today had a representative from Shiv Shena, a far-right Hindu nationalist group, discuss the case, in an attempt to further the notion that support for Sikh rights and Khalistan amount to terrorist activities.

In August of this year India Today were responsible for posting an image of an Al Qaeda terrorist photo-shopped to be shown wearing a Sikh turban for no apparent reason, sparking outrage among the Sikh community and fuelling the belief that India Today propagates anti-Sikh sentiment to the Indian public.

The Sikh Press Association have reached out directly to India Today to see if they would like leads of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign to speak on the show to provide some balance on the case to explain why many believe he is being unjustly treated by the Indian media and legal system.


07.12.17

Early Day Motion on Jagtar Singh tabled to force UK Parliament debate on the case

An Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Labour MP Jim Cunningham of Coventry South at the behest of his constituents requesting the case of Jagtar Singh to be debated in parliament.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough’s Labour MP, tweeted that he was “Pleased to sign” the motion, whilst also sharing the fact he submitted a written request to have Foreign and Commonwealth Office address the issue directly too. Sikh Federation UK also shared news that Labour MP for Warley John Spellar had also made the same written request.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign have been consistently contacting UK authorities on the issue and will be pleased to see MPs still acting on Jagtar Singh’s situation, which sees him remaining in Punjab Police custody without any official charge and reporting torture to his lawyer.

 


06.12.17

Canadian MP continues to pressure UK High Commission on Jagtar Singh case

Raj Grewal, Liberal Party MP of Brampton East, has addressed concerns of his constituents by continuing to push the Canadian UK High Commission into chasing up “legal representation and consular services” for Jagtar Singh.

Grewal, who originally addressed the UK HC on November 16th with a letter from his office, received a reply from them 19 days later, which he then tweeted to his followers whilst calling for “rule of law and due process” for Jagtar Singh, who was not given an opportunity to see a lawyer for 10 days from his original detainment and also reported severe torture at the hands of the Punjab Police.

Grewal is one of many politicians in Canada, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who have called for Indian authorities to be transparent and swift in showing why Jagtar Singh has actually been arrested. Jagtar Singh remains detained by the Punjab Police without any official charge.

 

Amnesty International highlight Punjab Police as danger to “human rights defenders”

A report released by Amnesty International on “deadliest countries to be a human rights defender” referenced the work of Ensaaf, a Sikh legal aid charity working to end impunity in Punjab.

The report, available to read here, specifically looks into the case of Jaswant Singh Khalra as shown by Ensaaf in a documentary. Jaswant Singh was a famous Sikh activist that spoke about the Punjab Police’s mass killings of Sikhs in Canadian parliament, before he himself ended up murdered at the hands of the Punjab Police in 1995.

The news only adds to the concern of #FreeJaggiNow supporters, whilst also adding fuel to their desire to see the 30 year old British Sikh free, knowing what danger he is in, as recognised by Punjab Police.

 

#FreeJaggiNow supporters dismayed London Mayor doesn’t bring up Jagtar Singh case with Punjab CM

Hundreds of supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign aired their discontent at London Mayor, the Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, suggesting the British Government should apologise for the Jallianwalabagh massacre in 1919, rather than bringing up the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

Jasveer Singh, Sikh Press Association Press Officer, said on the issue, “This kind of public statement on one of Britain’s most famous crimes during their colonial occupation of Punjab will be well received by many. However, mere lip service will never appease the Sikh community as a whole. Whilst many feel it would be great for British authorities to provide closure on this continued debate about whether Britain should apologise or not, the fact is there is an issue going on right now which thousands of British-Indians are concerned about, and that is the case of Jagtar Singh Johal.

“It would have been more pertinent for Sadiq Khan to raise this issue, especially since he met Captain Amarinder, Punjab Chief Minister, who was quick to say Jagtar Singh’s arrest saw murders solved, without a charge or trial levelled. If Khan wanted to show real intention to work to resolve issues between India and the UK, this current one involving Jagtar Singh’s detainment without charge and torture should have been on the top of his list.”

 

Jagtar Singh released from police custody…only to be re-arrested and placed back

Jagtar Singh today appeared in court for the 13th time in 32 days where a Ludhiana magistrate court judge did not grant Punjab Police’s request for an extension to his stay on remand in police custody, leading to them re-arresting him on a new charge, ensuring he again remains in police custody.

Set to appear in court again in five days, Jagtar Singh’s re-arrest was made based on yet another case, the details of which are still unclear. However, once again there is still no official charge, nor any FIR (First Incident Report) shown to name him. Requests from the British High Commission for a private meeting remain unmet, whilst a hearing for a petitioned request for an independent medical is still set for March 2018.

Many view the continuing cycle of new arrests to ensure Jagtar Singh remains in police custody as clear damning indications of the flawed nature of the Indian legal system, which thus far has produced no evidence on Jagtar Singh’s involvement in any crime, yet still saw Chief Minister Captain Amarinder claim up to eight murders were solved with his arrest, before any trial and even any charge has been made.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain steadfast in campaigning for his release.


05.12.17

12th court appearance in 31 days for Jagtar Singh leads to one day remand extension… but STILL no charge

A Punjab Police request for British Sikh Jagtar Singh’s stay in remand under policy custody for a further seven days was rejected and shortened to just one day by a Ludhiana court judge today.

The decision means Jagtar Singh will appear in court again for the third time in four days and for the 12th time in the last 31 days since he was originally detained. The continual extension of Jagtar Singh’s stay on remand has only added to the support of #FreeJaggiNow campaigners, who feel that after 31 days a detainee who had allegedly been watched for a year according to Indian media would have by now been charged by the police for a crime.

The #FreeJaggiNow official campaign support page posted today, “International political pressure has resulted in Jaggi (Jagtar Singh) being treated better by the Ludhiana police. Punjab police are still exerting pressure on the judiciary and causing legal delays by seeking extensive periods of police remand. Today, like yesterday, an extended period of police remand was requested. However, like yesterday the judge granted only one additional day. We won’t allow Jaggi to become another statistic of Indian state oppression.”

British High Commission requests for Jagtar Singh to have an independent medical have still not been granted by Indian authorities, with a petition filed to the court in support of the medical resulting in a court hearing date set for March 2018, five months later than the original request was made. A similar request for a private meeting with Jagtar Singh has still not been granted either, leaving his laywer Jaspal Singh saying recently, “The actions of the Indian authorities shows they have something to hide”.

Jagtar Singh is set to appear in court again tomorrow, where supporters hope for progression on this case, rather than the continued detainment of the 30 year old from Dumbarton, Scotland, without charge.

 


04.12.17

British High Commission request for IMMEDIATE independent medical set by Indian court… for MARCH 2018 hearing

A British High Commission (BHC) request for Jagtar Singh to receive an independent medical to look into his reports of torture was today set for a hearing, FIVE MONTHS after the request was made.

The BHC request, made on November 17th, was outright rejected originally by a judge who believed a medical for Jagtar Singh was done in private by the Punjab Police, the same group who he states tortured him. A petition was filed, aided by requests from Jaspal Singh the lawyer of Jagtar Singh, which saw support for an independent medical shared with the court. The independent medical was deemed necessary by human rights supporters as Jagtar Singh has openly reported torture to his lawyer.

The judge that Jagtar Singh was presented in front of today in court in Ludhiana set a hearing on the petition for the independent medical in March 2018, shocking supporters of the campaign and human rights groups, meaning potentially reports of torture will go un-investigated for a further five months, casting real doubt on the Indian state’s intention to stamp out the notorious treatment detainees receive at the hands of Punjab Police.

 

11th court appearance leads to shortest possible remand extension for Jagtar…but still NO CHARGE

Punjab Police today had a request for Jagtar Singh to be placed in police custody remand for a further seven days rejected by a Ludhiana court judge, with extension given for only one day.

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign hope this is a sign that Indian judicial system will force the Punjab Police to move the situation forward, which should mean laying official charges on Jagtar Singh and having the issue taken to trial. Jagtar Singh has been detained by Punjab Police since November 4th without charge and without an FIR (First Incident Report) that actually names him as a suspect in past crimes.

The situation leaves Jagtar Singh with another court appearance set for tomorrow, his 12th in 31 days, which many feel shows clear uncertainty by the Indian judicial system in regards to what Jagtar Singh is actually being detained for.


03.12.17

Theresa May under “intense pressure” to address #FreeJaggiNow case, as 148 MPs asked by constituents to raise issue

The Sikh Federation UK stated Theresa May’s government are under “intense pressure” to take action against the Indian state regarding the torture of British Sikh Jagtar Singh.

The statement was made shortly before it was announced that phase two of the #FreeJaggiNow support campaign had seen 148 MPs contacted by local constituents in order to have them ask the PM and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson what actions are being taken regarding Jagtar Singh’s detainment without charge. This follows a Foreign and Commonwealth Office rep Roy Stewart stating on November 15th that “extreme action” would be taken by UK authorities on the situation.

The topic is again expected to be brought up in parliament, with campaigners hoping for Boris Johnson to finally speak on the situation which has seen Jagtar Singh now detained for 30 days without charge and reporting torture at the hands of Punjab Police.


02.12.17

#FreeJaggiNow team begin second phase of support campaign

Led by the Sikh Federation UK, the Jagtar Singh #FreeJaggiNow team have begun “phase two” of their support campaign.

With the aim being to have supporters contact 200 MPs and encourage them to address their constituents’ concerns about the Jagtar Singh case, an email template has been provided, which includes direct requests to find out what “extreme actions” – based on the statement a Foreign Office rep gave in parliament – will be taken by the Foreign Office in relation to Jagtar Singh’s torture and detainment without charge by Indian authorities.

See more details on phase two here.

 

Jagtar Singh gets yet another two day extension on his stay in remand

Jagtar Singh today appeared in front of a judicial magistrate court just two days since his last court appearance, his eighth court appearance in 28 days.
Here Punjab Police requested a further five day extension of his stay in police custody remand. The request was denied by the judge, which then led to the police asking for a further extension for a different FIR (First Incident Report) based on another killing. Once again, this FIR has not been shown to actually name Jagtar Singh and is just being linked with him by the police. The latest links him with the shooting of an RSS (Hindu nationalist far right org) building in the city of Kidwai Nagar in India, in 2016 when Jagtar Singh was not in the country.
The judge granted the remand extension in police custody for this new FIR. For the previous FIRs linked with him, he will now be kept in judicial custody instead of police custody, where it is believed he will be safer from torture and also more likely to receive a private meeting with British High Commission Staff. Jagtar Singh is set to appear in court again on December 4th.See full detail on this case here via Sikh Siyasat news – https://sikhsiyasat.net/2017/12/02/ludhiana-police-gets-transit-remand-jagtar-singh-jaggi-court-commits-judicial-custody-sultan-masih-case/

01.12.17

UK shadow Foreign Secretary presses Boris Johnson on Jagtar Singh case

Labour MP Emily Thornberry used her position as the shadow Foreign Secretary to put yet more pressure on acting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, asking “what progress” has been made on the Jagtar Singh case.

Sent on the 27th of November, the letter is the second Emily Thornberry has sent, with the other on the 21st of November. The Islington South and Finsbury MP said a private meeting for Jagtar Singh with British High Commission (BHC) staff “is vital”. The letter also openly stated that Jagtar Singh’s family’s “experience of consular services in India has been decidedly negative”.

The letter – shared by the Sikh Federation and available to read here – also expressed “concern” about the fact the Indian authorities are openly rejecting BHC requests, before asking Boris Johnson for a response “as soon as possible”.


30.11.17

Jagtar Singh’s remand extended to allow Punjab Police to find his passport, 16 days after being told where it is

A judicial magistrate court in Ludhiana today granted the Punjab Police request a two day extension for Jagtar Singh’s stay in police custody to retrieve his British passport, despite the fact they were told about it’s whereabouts 16 days ago.

Punjab Police originally raided the Punjab family home of Jagtar Singh to find his passport on November 4th. Jagtar Singh’s family felt it would be safer to hand it to the British High Commission, which was done on November 8th, before this was officially announced in a Bagha Purana court on November 14th.

The court’s judge granted the extension, for the 8th time, without even hearing Jagtar Singh’s lawyer Jaspal Singh’s response to the request. For quotes and more, see Sikh Siyasat’s news report.

 

British High Commission fail to attend Jagtar Singh court hearing, adding to concern about ability to help

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign voiced their frustration at British High Commission (BHC) staff failing to attend Jagtar Singh’s latest court hearing, where his stay on remand in police custody was extended by two days once again.

The failure of consular staff to attend will do nothing to appease supporters of the campaign who feel the UK are showing their impotence in regards to being able to facilitate a fair process for the 30 year old British Sikh, born and raised in Scotland, during his detainment in India.

Reports from India state the BHC said they did not have the available staff to ensure a rep was in attendance.

Jagtar Singh has currently spent 26 days in police custody without an FIR (First Incident Report) being shown to name him, nor any official charge made against him. Despite BHC requests, Punjab Police have also not allowed a private meeting between consular staff and Jagtar Singh, whilst Punjab courts have also ignored their requests to allow him a private medical, to investigate reports of torture.

With Jagtar Singh set to appear in court again on Saturday, should BHC staff fail to attend again, serious questions from supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign are certain to be aimed at the Foreign Office.

 

Jagtar Singh’s grandmother passes away in India following regular police harassment

The #FreeJaggiNow campaign today revealed Jagtar Singh’s grandmother, whom the 30 year old British Sikh stayed with during his time in India, passed away two days ago.

Family of Jagtar Singh believe the stress of the situation definitely helped cause the conditions which led to her death, highlighted by the fact her home was even raided and searched on the day of her funeral. The home where she lived was raided and searched several times, with the family sharing images of the home left looking ransacked after, whilst her phone-line – her only means for contact with the outside world – was also cut-off by police.

Gurpreet Singh, brother of Jagtar Singh, said “She lived in fear during this time. Her home was originally raided by police in their search for the British passports of our family. We don’t know what they were after during the subsequent raids. They smashed the locks on the doors too and the whole family felt constantly intimidated.”

The entire family of Jagtar Singh have complained of intimidation from the Punjab Police, including those in the UK who have received threatening phone calls. Indian media also reported the mobile phones of Jagtar Singh’s India based family were taken by police. Jagtar Singh’s newly wedded wife remains in hiding due to fear of similar treatment.

NOTE – Jagtar Singh’s grandmother is actually his father’s mother’s sister. However, it is common in Punjabi cultures for someone senior in the family to be referred to in this manner.


 

29.11.17

UK Minister of Human Rights addresses Lord Singh question on Jagtar Singh

Lord Ahmad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State and Minister of Human Rights, said the British High Commission (BHC) “will continue to raise this case with the authorities”, in response to a question by Lord Singh of Wimbledon about the Jagtar Singh case.

Shared today in a tweet by the Network of Sikh Organisations, the question was first tabled on November 13th and was responded to on November 27th. The Sikh community and the worldwide supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow are continuing to explore every possible angle to push the UK authorities into the immediate action deemed necessary to prevent further torture of Jagtar Singh at the hands of the Punjab Police. Thus far, Punjab Police have refused court orders and BHC requests to grant Jagtar Singh private time with consular staff or allow an independent medical.


28.11.17

Still in police custody, still no charge: Seventh court appearance in 25 days for Jagtar Singh leads to no change

A judicial magistrate court in Ludhiana today extended the stay in police custody for British Sikh Jagtar Singh by two days, whilst once again no official charge for his detainment was made.

The continual extension of remand, along with the lack of enforcement of British High Commission requests for Jagtar Singh to have a private meeting and independent medical with consular staff, led the 30 year old’s lawyer Jaspal Singh to declare judges were acting as a “postman” would by simply delivering police messages and not looking to “apply their mind”.

The hearing, which saw Jagtar Singh taken into court with his face covered which many believe to be a sign he is being physically gagged, also saw two of the others arrested with the Scotsman have their remand extended. Read more on the details of the hearing here via Sikh Siyasat News.

Jagtar Singh lawyer raises issue of violation of British High Commission court order

Jaspal Singh, the lawyer of Jagtar Singh, today asked a judicial magistrate court about Punjab Police refusal to obey an order to allow Jagtar Singh to meet with British High Commission staff in privacy.

Unfortunately for the British authorities who are having their authority negated, as well as supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, Jaspal Singh later told media “the court did not take its notice”, regarding his raising of the issue. Jagtar Singh has been waiting for over two weeks for a private meeting with British High Commission (BHC) staff, which thus far has only been allowed to happen in the presence of Punjab Police. This adds to the issue of the lack of a BHC recommended independent medical for Jagtar Singh, to explore the reports of his torture.

In response to this denial of the BHC request, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pointed back to their previous statement on the issue, stating they will “continue to press the authorities for further access”. The Sikh community and supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain waiting anxiously to see if British authorities are able to get the Punjab Police to allow them private access to Jagtar Singh.

Jaspal Singh also mentioned that it is against Indian law for someone to be brought into court in handcuffs, which has been done to Jagtar Singh in every court appearance he’s had, prompting the #FreeJaggiNow official Facebook page to ask how fair process could be expected when laws are being broken by those meant to be implementing the law.

28.11.17

Still in police custody, still no charge: Seventh court appearance in 25 days for Jagtar Singh leads to no change

A judicial magistrate court in Ludhiana today extended the stay in police custody for British Sikh Jagtar Singh by two days, whilst once again no official charge for his detainment was made.

The continual extension of remand, along with the lack of enforcement of British High Commission requests for Jagtar Singh to have a private meeting and independent medical with consular staff, led the 30 year old’s lawyer Jaspal Singh to declare judges were acting as a “postman” would by simply delivering police messages and not looking to “apply their mind”.

The hearing, which saw Jagtar Singh taken into court with his face covered which many believe to be a sign he is being physically gagged, also saw two of the others arrested with the Scotsman have their remand extended. Read more on the details of the hearing here via Sikh Siyasat News.

 

Jagtar Singh lawyer raises issue of violation of British High Commission court order

Jaspal Singh, the lawyer of Jagtar Singh, today asked a judicial magistrate court about Punjab Police refusal to obey an order to allow Jagtar Singh to meet with British High Commission staff in privacy.

Unfortunately for the British authorities who are having their authority negated, as well as supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, Jaspal Singh later told media “the court did not take its notice”, regarding his raising of the issue. Jagtar Singh has been waiting for over two weeks for a private meeting with British High Commission (BHC) staff, which thus far has only been allowed to happen in the presence of Punjab Police. This adds to the issue of the lack of a BHC recommended independent medical for Jagtar Singh, to explore the reports of his torture.

In response to this denial of the BHC request, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office pointed back to their previous statement on the issue, stating they will “continue to press the authorities for further access”. The Sikh community and supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign remain waiting anxiously to see if British authorities are able to get the Punjab Police to allow them private access to Jagtar Singh.

 


27.11.17

#FreeJaggiNow campaigners anxiously waiting on Indian State to adhere to British Govt requests

Supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign have spoken of becoming “impatient” in wait for Jagtar Singh to receive a private meeting with British High Commission staff, as requested by the UK Foreign Office.

On November 24th Punjab Police refused both a Indian court order and also a British High Commission request for Jagtar Singh to be met by consular staff in privacy. This follows the request by the Foreign Office for an independent medical for Jagtar Singh also being rejected, with an Indian court claiming the British Sikh had already been examined – by the same police accused of torture.

A campaigner who asked to remain anonymous said, “The Sikh community is becoming impatient. Whilst we wait for India to respond to the UK Govt requests, Jagtar Singh is likely being tortured. At the moment we ask when the private meeting with Jagtar will happen. If we have to wait longer it will be if the meeting will happen, which will lead to a lot of disappointment and a real change in feeling of the protection being a British citizen is supposed to give.”

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 21.24.03

 

Dumbarton politicians come together for #FreeJaggiNow campaign

The politicians of Jagtar Singh’s hometown in Scotland came together to further support immediate government intervention to explore issues around his detainment by Indian police.

The Punjab Police originally arrested Jagtar Singh by throwing a sack over his head and forcing him into a van, prompting concern among the Sikh community. With reports of his torture soon following, Jagtar Singh’s local MP Martin Docherty of the Labour party was quick to address the situation.

Read more about Dumbarton’s politicians view on the issue here.

 

#FreeJaggiNow support Chennai Six but state “we do not have years”

Following the release of the “Chennai Six”, the #FreeJaggiNow campaign team said they “stand in solidarity” with the team who worked for the Britons’ freedom but added “We do not have years or event months, a young British man’s life is at stake”.

The statement was said in relation to Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary, taking for years to publicly advocate support for the freedom of the Chennai Six. Campaigners feel that intervention in the case of Jagtar Singh, who has been detained by Punjab police and reporting torture since November 4th without any official charge made against him, is needed immediately.

See the full statement here.


 

26.11.17

Jagtar Singh “forced into signing blank pieces of paper during torture”

A meeting between Sikh organisations at activists at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick (Birmingham, UK) saw news revealed of Jagtar Singh being “forced into signing 10-15 blank pieces of paper by Police during torture”.

Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation, a lead of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign, shared this news during the conference with hundreds of Sikhs in attendance, which occurred early on during Jagtar Singh’s detainment.

Relaying information given to him via Jagtar Singh’s lawyer, Shamsher Singh said “Jagtar Singh was made to sign about 8-10 blank pieces of paper. This is a known tactic of the Punjab Police, they make you sign blank pieces of paper so they can present your confession on there.”

Shamsher Singh went on to add, “The torture, the extra-judicial killings that were inflicted on us by the Punjab police..this case has opened old wounds and this is why we see this global coming together.”

 

Sikh Siyasat exclusive interview with Jagtar Singh’s lawyer

Respected Sikh news site Sikh Siyasat have recorded an exclusive interview with Jaspal Singh, the lawyer of Jagtar Singh. Check out Jaspal Singh discussing the “mental torture” and “physical torture” and more here.

Please note, this interview is in Punjabi. For translations or anything else, please send requests to Media@SikhPA.com.


 

25.11.17

British HC again DENIED private meeting with British Sikh in Indian jail, despite court order

British High Commission representatives were refused a private meeting with Jagtar Singh yesterday, despite a Punjab magistrate court judge ordering it to happen.

Jagtar Singh, the 30 year old Sikh born and raised in Scotland, has been detained by Punjab police since November 4th, without any official charge. Yesterday, on 24th November, a Ludhiana court judge finally responded to a British High Commission request, made first on November 15th, for a private meeting with Jagtar Singh, who has complained of being tortured via his lawyer.

After the judge made the decision in court, Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Ayre and two colleagues waited for the best part of a day for an opportunity to sit with Jagtar Singh privately. The meeting was not allowed to happen by Punjab police, who instead arranged a meeting between Jagtar Singh and the consular staff in their presence, this morning (approximately 11.30am, November 25th).

The fact that British representatives of the High Commission have thus far been unable to ensure an independent medical or a private meeting for Jagtar Singh have only helped to fuel the concerns of the #FreeJaggiNow campaigners, who believe an immediate intervention is required, directly by British authorities.

Free Jaggi Now - 25th Nov update

 

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn briefed on #FreeJaggiNow, asked to directly address it

A Sikh Federation UK representative directly discussed the situation of Jagtar Singh with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday, suggesting the Labour Party Leader directly address the situation.

A spokesman for the Sikh Federation said: “Jeremy Corbyn expressed his disquiet with the method of abduction, the lack of access to lawyers, British consular staff and family for the first 10 days, Jagtar’s allegations of third degree torture, the fact he remains in police custody rather than judicial custody and the refusal to grant an independent medical examination.”

Mr Corbyn promised to discuss the matter with Preet Kaur Gill, the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs and Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston and to try and meet Mr Johal’s family and campaigners early next week.

Full story here.


 

24.11.17

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.

Three members of the British High Commission were in court to witness the hearing, including Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Ayre. The BHC reps stated they did not wish to get interfere in any investigative process, although a private meeting with Jagtar Singh was requested.
“The court gave the British High Commission team a copy of the directions issued to the police to arrange for a meeting between the High Commission delegation and Jagtar Singh in a separate room for privacy” said Jaspal Singh, Jagtar Singh’s lawyer.
Also, according to Jagtar Singh’s lawyer, Jagtar Singh was asked if he wanted to address the court and Jagtar Singh pleaded his innocence, stating he was unrelated to any of the crimes he is being linked with.
Following this update, Jagtar Singh was once again taken to an unknown location by Ludhiana police.Full report available via Sikh Siyasat news.

23.11.17

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

Today it was revealed by lead campaigners of the #FreeJaggiNow movement, having spoken directly to his family and legal support team, that a British High Commission official was blocked from seeing Jagtar Singh Johal last night.
The news comes just a day before he is set to appear in court again, prompting further concern about his precarious position. Whilst the FCO did promise “extreme action” if Jagtar Singh was found to be tortured, it remains to be seen how this will be investigated without the cooperation of Indian authorities, who have so far refused an independent medial and now are refusing British authorities to see the 30 year old Dumbarton resident.

 


 

22.11.17

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.


 

21.11.17

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.


 

20.11.17

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.

 


 

19.11.17

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.


 

18.11.17

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.

Free Jaggi Now - lobby parliament posters

Free Jaggi Now - lobby parliament poster 2

 

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.

Jas Dhanota tweet #freejagginow christian pastor

 

 

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.


 

17.11.17

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://115.112.58.53:1111/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.

 

Harjit Sajjan


 

16.11.17

Foreign Office reps meet with #FreeJaggiNow campaigners during protest 

 

“The FCO acknowledged they have not been fulfilling their role”

#FreeJaggiNow protest pic

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.

 

“The FCO have been contacted from all over the world about Jagtar Singh”
#FreeJaggiNow bhenji with sign

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”

#FreeJaggiNow Gurpreet Singh media

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.”


15.11.17

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

Jagtar Singh london protest nov 16


 

14.11.17

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.


 

13.11.17

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.


 

12.11.17

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.


 

11.11.17

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.

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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.

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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;

STATEMENT FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF SIKH RELIEF AND EX NRI SIKH POLITICAL PRISONER, BALBIR SINGH BAINS

“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.

 

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Reaction: Sajjan Kumar convicted for 1984 Sikh Genocide role

Senior Indian politician Sajjan Kumar was today sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

10sajjanThe Delhi High Court found him guilty of ‘criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and acts against communal harmony’ in the killing of a family of five in Delhi during the genocide of Sikhs in November 1984.

That family included the son and husband of Jagdish Kaur, who spoke to the BBC after the verdict. She described it as ‘a little balm applied after a long time to our scars. At least one high-profile accused will now go to jail.’ She was one of three eyewitnesses who ensured that the case could go ahead, providing evidence with what the court described as ‘courage and perseverance’. 

Kumar, 73, is the first high-profile politician to have been convicted over the genocide. Eyewitnesses from November 1984 and research since then have indicted not just the complicity of senior Congress Party officials at the time, but that they played a key role in orchestrating the killings of Sikhs.

The case was brought Harvinder Singh (HS) Phoolka, a senior advocate of Delhi High Court, who has been fighting for justice for over 30 years. He described the sentence as the ‘result of 34 years struggle’, and has been widely praised for his fortitude.  

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The judged explicitly cited Kumar’s ‘political patronage’ a factor of why it had taken so long to administer justice.

Pav Singh, author of 1984: India’s Guilty Secret, said: ‘Finally after 34 years there’s been one single conviction of a leading senior Congress [Party]  leader. 34 years too late though, for the victims and their families, and I think that’s a crime in itself.’ 

The High Court also said: ‘This Court is of the view that the mass killings of Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in November 1984 were in fact ‘crimes against humanity’. 

In light of this, there has been widespread criticism of the BBC’s reporting of the conviction, which refers to the killings as ‘anti-Sikh riots’, rather than using the term ‘genocide’.

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 12.18.49Both Sikh MPs, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Preet Kaur Gill, tweeted criticism the description of ‘riots’, instead using the term ‘genocide’.

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The Sikh Press Association contacted BBC News Online regarding its use of ‘anti-Sikh riots’ used in its online coverage but was directed towards the BBC’s formal complaints procedure. An update of the story changed the headline to say ‘killings’ instead of ‘riots’, but continued to refer to ‘anti-Sikh riots’ in the text.

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Speaking to BBC Asian Network, Sikh PA press officer Sukh Singh outlined why calling the killings a genocide – rather than riots – is important, saying that ‘genocide’ emphasised how the killings were not just random, but orchestrated.

Jasveer Singh, Sikh Press Association Senior Press Officer, said of the conviction and resulting media coverage, ‘It is time media outlets caught up to the current narrative around the 1984 Sikh genocide. Most are not matching neither the current political or legal language being used. There are many politicians including India’s own home minister and countless other politicians around the world that recognise what occurred in India in 1984 was genocide.

Furthermore, even the legal language around the conviction of Sajjan Kumar called the massacres “crimes against humanity”, pointing to a series of incidents unfitting of being labelled “riots”.

The bottomline is descriptions of “riots” for what occurred are outdated and biased. It is high time media caught up and we will be doing everything in our power to speed up this process.’

One of the more popular posts on the verdict came from Sikh cartoonish Vishavjit Singh, also known as Sikhtoons on social media, which highlighted how India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also among politicians accused of fuelling pogroms against minorities.

This sentiment was echoed by others who pointed out that as one perpetrator was convicted, another senior politician widely accused of orchestrating the genocide, Kamal Nath, became Chief Minister of India’s second largest state. Nath is the most high profile name along with Jagdish Tytler still escaping conviction for his role in the genocide despite many witnesses confirming his involvement.

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Sikhs respond to unsubstantiated ‘Sikh extremism’ inclusion in Canadian terror threat report

Sikhs across the world have reacted with shock and criticism to the news of a Canadian government report alleging ‘Sikh extremism’ without evidence.Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 14.28.19

The 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada was published yesterday by Public Safety Canada, a federal government department. The report included a small section on ‘Sikh extremism’ but failed to provide any evidence for this contributing to Canada’s terror threat.

The report says: ‘Some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements. This political movement aims to create an independent homeland for Sikhs called Khalistan, in India.’ It did not specify how support for self-determination, a principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, contributed to Canada’s terror threat.

President of the World Sikh Organisation Mukhbir Singh condemned the report, saying: ‘It is deeply disappointing to see the addition of imagined “Sikh extremism” to the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.’

He added: ‘There is no explanation for this addition other than Public Safety Canada having tacitly accepted the false Indian rhetoric around rising extremism in the Sikh community.’

In a letter to Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, the WSO clearly indicated a link between the inclusion of Sikhs in the report and Canada’s diplomatic relations with India. It said: ‘Given the lack of any current incidents associated with extremism in the Sikh community, it appears that the addition of the section on ‘Sikh extremism’ is linked to the fact that, despite any evidence, India has repeatedly raised this issue with Canada at every bilateral meeting between the two countries.’

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 12.38.32Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party responded by tweeting: ‘We must call out terrorism wherever it occurs, including recent attacks from the far right targeting women in Toronto & Muslims in QC. The Liberal’s public safety report fails to do this – but does stoke fear w/o any evidence about the Sikh community, which is dangerous & wrong.’

A statement from the British Columbia Sikh Gurudwaras Council and Ontario Gurdwaras Committee – a coalition of around 30 gurdwaras across Canada – called the inclusion ‘not only surprising, but disturbing.’

They warned: ‘Maligning the entire Sikh community in this report in such a generalised statement is irresponsible and could have wide standing effects on Sikhs throughout Canada.  

‘What has happened since December 21 2017 (release of the 2017 version of this report) that would move the Liberal government in Canada to take such a step and include the Sikh community now?’

Echoing the concerns of the WSO, the statement said: ‘The direct link between the content of this report regarding the Sikh community and the ongoing interference of the Government of India in Sikh affairs within Canada is blatantly obvious.’

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 16.43.25Canadian Sikh educator Harman Singh of world-renowned educational outlet Basics of Sikhi said: ‘It is shocking that such damaging claims have been made on the basis of no evidence. Such unsubstantiated rhetoric from the government endangers the lives of Canadian Sikhs.’

Regarding support for Khalistan, he added: ‘How does the Canadian government not understand that many Sikhs fear for their security, and that of their people and heritage, in a country whose government has committed genocide against them? Across the world the principle of self-determination is seen as fundamental to democracy. Why is the Canadian government scaremongering by portraying Sikhs as a threat for voicing that fundamental right?’

The reaction from Sikhs was strong enough to prompt a response from Garnett Genius, the Deputy Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. He tweeted: ‘References to “Sikh extremism” or other “extremisms” without context or evidence is an irresponsible way for the government to communicate about a sensitive issue. We would like more information about what led to that reference.’

Screen Shot 2018-12-14 at 16.44.02The report comes just days after a parliamentary report investigating Justin Trudeau’s trip to India in February said concern from the National Security and Intelligence Advisor that ‘foreign actors were undermining the reputation of “respected public institutions”’ in Canada was ‘understandable’.

The report is also at odds with findings from respected academic Dr Jasjit Singh, whose investigations of the British Sikh community – where there is significant Khalistan support – found no evidence to suggest a terror threat from Sikhs. He said his report ‘concludes that Sikhs in Britain do not pose a security threat as there is no conflict with “the West”’.  In June, British Sikhs marched in front of Buckingham Palace and down the Mall in London behind a ‘Khalistan Zindabad’ banner without any expression of concern from the British authorities.

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Sikh school protests lead to DfE meeting

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that it will consult with all key stakeholders before deciding the fate of Seva School in Coventry.

Parents of pupils at the school, which has put into special measures by Ofsted, had been protesting against proposed changes, saying that the DfE was ignoring their concerns.

Seva School in Walsgrave is a free school currently part of the Sevak Education Trust. A faith school opened in 2014, it describes its ethos as ‘grounded in the Sikh faith’. In 2016, it was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and has been in special measures for the past two years.

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On 26th November, hundreds of parents along with Seva School pupils protested outside the DfE office in Coventry, following notification from the Regional School’s Commissioner that the school would be transferred to another trust, the Nishkam School Trust. Parents and pupils carried placards that read: ‘Save our Sikh Faith School’, ‘DfE Stop Bullying’ and ‘We Deserve Equal Rights’.

One mother at the protest said: ‘I am terribly disappointed to possibly change it into a multi faith school. We worked so hard to keep this school as a Sikh School.’ Other parents have been just as critical; as many as 500 letters have been sent by parents of pupils in opposition to the proposals.

This proposed course of action has opposition from the Sevak Education Trust and many parents of pupils at Seva School. Both the Trust and the Parents of Seva School Action Group have undertaken legal correspondence with DfE, seeking them to pause activities ‘pending further consideration of the issues.’ The Sevak Education Trust have put forward alternative proposals, namely a transfer or ‘re-brokerage’ to Khalsa Academies Trust which already has three Sikh schools across the country. This option is preferred by the Parents of Seva School Action Group who fear that a transfer to the Nishkam School Trust would compromise the existing Sikh ethos of the school.

The Sevak Education Trust had been arguing that its counter-proposal of the school coming under the Khalsa Academies Trust had not even been considered as an option by the Regional School’s Commissioner, who – it is claimed – have refused to engage with Khalsa Academies Trust.

cov sch2Now it has been confirmed by the DfE that all key stakeholders in this matter will be consulted before making a final decision on which school trust Seva School should join.

Notable Sikh figure Kam Singh, who has a child at Seva School, welcomed the news saying: ‘All Sikhs have wanted is to be a part of the process and have equal rights and ensure that the right model is chosen for Seva School. Respect and thanks to all those children and parents that have worked so hard to ensure their voices are heard.’

In an earlier letter to parents, Seva School said: ‘The Khalsa Academies Trust has a religious ethos and values which are closely aligned with Seva School, and would seem an obvious better fit for the purposes of maintaining and developing the positive aspects of this ethos.’

The school acknowledged that it has received ‘an overwhelming response against the DfE’s proposal’ and cautioned: ‘Changes to Seva School’s ethos would cause significant disruption […] and represent a very definite departure from the Sikh faith academy we promised.’ The Khalsa Academies Trust has already engaged with the school which included attending a public meeting on the situation.

 

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Organ Donation in the Sikh Community

On Sunday 9th December, Sikh educational project Basics of Sikhi will be joined by several medical professionals to discuss the issue of organ donation.  The panel will include Rohit Sagoo, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University and founder of British Sikh Nurses, who writes here about his experiences of organ donation and the Sikh community: 

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Anaya Kaur Kandola was born with little chance of survival and has fought battle after battle to be here. She has Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (ARPKD) is a condition in which growing cysts leave little room for other organs and create serious difficulties such as underdeveloped lungs, vulnerability to infections and heart conditions. This left the doctors with no choice but to remove Anaya’s kidneys soon after birth. Dialysis helps to cleans Anaya’s blood by being on a machine 10-12 hours every day and right now it is the only thing keeping her alive.

Anaya is coming up to 2 years of age. The difficulties of her condition and being attached to a machine for almost half the day has severely impacted her growth and development. This is all Anaya has known in her short life.

As Sikhs we often think about helping others, growing Sikhi, and instilling the values our Guru Jis left behind in ourselves and our children going forward. Here, our child has opened our eyes to the greatest Seva: giving life to others when we pass by donating our organs to those in need.

It is widely reported that in the UK there is a shortfall of organ donors from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities. According to statistics from NHS Blood and Transport, around one third of patients awaiting an organ are from BAME communities. However, a significantly smaller proportion of the BAME community registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register. 3.3% of registrants were Asian, 2% were mixed race, and just 1% were black. These statistics show the pressing need for the Asian community to respond to the needs of organ patients.

In 2017/18, just over 1,500 donated organs after their death. Of these, 114 were from ethnic minority groups and just 37 (or 2.4%) were of Asian heritage. Such a disparity between those who need organs and those who donate them is clear to see: nearly 20% of those requiring an organ transplant are from the Asian community, but only 1% of organ donors each year are South Asian.

23826273_1761163110856533_5889134186192688564_oConsidering this, how is organ donation received in the Sikh community?

Organ donation is generally viewed positively in the Sikh Community. General attitudes to organ donation from South Asians, express religious, sociocultural, and environmental pressures. Though the sociocultural and environmental pressures may exist for the Sikh community, there is no evidence to suggest that the Sikh community is deterred from donating organs on religious grounds.  

The Sikh faith is underpinned by the ethos of executing noble deeds for all of humankind. Therefore, it can be suggested that organ donation would be considered as one of those noble acts according to the Sikh faith. Sri Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh holy scripture – states:

“The true servants of God are those who serve Him through helping others” Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

With this in mind, it is important to consider organ donation as a service to those in need. Many of the individuals within the Sikh community that require organ transplantation have raised awareness through campaigning through the Gurdwaras and other forms of media. The sharing of learned experiences has expanded the discussion of organ donation within the Sikh community. But what more can be done?

Dialogue with Sikhs of all ages has shown that what happens to our bodies after life can be a positive discussion.  Many acknowledge the need for education and awareness, and welcome the opportunity to share their own thoughts on how they wish to serve others.  The concept of saving a life as the highest form of seva has been echoed many times over.

In addition, older members of the community have expressed concern that health issues would eliminate them from being able to donate, but they have been assured that donations have been taken from those in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, and that the medical team will be able to assess whether any of the transplantable organs would benefit someone in need.

skynews-organ-donation-nhs_4180497It is encouraging to all of us to note that both those previously unaware of the Organ Donor Register, and those that are already on it, have expressed their gratitude to volunteers for bringing this message to the Sikh community. Everybody involved hopes that the issue of a lack of organ donors can be addressed, and ultimately provides hope to those waiting for organs to survive.

As many have said in their parting comments, none of us know when we or our loved ones maybe the ones on a waiting list, and if we are prepared to receive an organ, we should equally be prepared to donate them when our time comes.

Sunday’s discussion will be held from 7.30pm (after katha) upstairs at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Park Avenue, Southall. 

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Parliament increases pressure on Foreign Secretary to meet Jagtar Singh’s family and MP

Foreign Office minister Mark Field has said he will make representations to the Foreign Secretary, to suggest that he meets with Jagtar Singh’s MP and family.

The remarks came in a House of Commons debate brought by Jagtar Singh’s constituency MP Martin Docherty-Hughes yesterday, in which there was widespread concern that the Foreign Secretary had not yet met with either Jagtar Singh’s family or MP.

Asking for a meeting was at the heart of Docherty-Hughes’ speech, in which he spoke of several actions, and instances of inaction from the British government, which formed a ‘consistent narrative over the last year’ of ‘superficiality underpinned by an incoherent approach to consular support.’ Britain’s first turbaned Sikh MP, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, said that such a meeting was ‘the very least that the family deserves’, as the Commons heard that the Foreign Secretary had in fact already met with another MP (Eddie Hughes) regarding the case. Meanwhile, the Foreign Office minister maintained that Jagtar Singh’s case ‘has been a priority for the government at the highest levels.’

Jagtar Singh, described by his MP as ‘a true son of the rock [of Dumbarton] has been detained for over a year in India. In that time, he has risked severe consequences by telling British officials of his torture at the hands of the Indian authorities. Shortly after his arrest, the Chief Minister of Punjab boasted that the authorities had all the evidence against Jagtar Singh; over one year later not a single piece of evidence against him has been presented. Martin Docherty-Hughes called for Jagtar Singh to receive a fair, transparent trial based on due process or ‘if there are no witnesses, if there is no evidence, to be released.’

Despite starting much earlier than planned, the debate was well attended, with even the minister expressing the sentiment that it was far from ‘a standard half-an-hour, two-member adjournment debate.’ Taking advantage of the earlier start time, Martin Docherty-Hughes carefully presented  a thorough timeline of Jagtar Singh’s abduction by plain-clothes police in Punjab to the House and read out his report of the subsequent torture which included electrocution of his private areas. He took numerous interventions, mainly from SNP colleagues who all raised concerns regarding not just Jagtar Singh’s torture but the government inaction thereafter.

Martin Docherty-Hughes was also scathing of the fact that the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh discussed Jagtar Singh’s case at public meetings in the UK before meeting his MP or his family. Docherty-Hughes asked: ‘How did it come about that I and my constituent’s family got the discuss the issue with the Deputy High Commissioner, who has visited my constituent (I have not had that luxury)? It was through the office of my honourable friend [Preet Kaur Gill].’ Using self-admittedly diplomatic language, Docherty-Hughes described that meeting as ‘fraught or even frosty,’ following from the intervention of Preet Kaur Gill, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs, who said that it was unclear what representations the British High Commissioner in Chandigarh had made to Punjab’s Chief Minister when the two met.

Alison Thewliss, whose constituency of Glasgow Central contains the city’s three Gurdwaras said: ‘Jagtar’s case raises wider concerns for each of the members of those congregations [of Glasgow’s three Gurdwaras] when they go to travel to India, they may face similar threats and that there are real and genuine worries there for their own safety’ Martin Docherty-Hughes agreed, saying that he thought gurdwaras not just in Scotland but across the UK shared that concern. The minister acknowledged the interest of not just Jagtar Singh’s family, but the wider Sikh community, in his case.

Referencing the ‘extreme action’ remarks made by the then-Foreign minister Rory Stewart, Docherty-Hughes asked ‘that the minister today enlightens us as to what “extreme action” was and what their own investigations concluded.’ Mark Field replied: ‘While in all fairness, I probably would not have used the phrase “extreme action” – I don’t think “extreme” is something that many people would associate with me and my brand of politics – nonetheless allegations like this are taken extremely seriously.’ Regarding the allegations of torture, the minister said that ‘at this stage they [the Indian authorities]are refuting that they have happened,’ but said he would write to the MP for West Dunbartonshire with a response that he could guarantee would be accurate.

Jagtar Singh’s MP methodically raised specific points of concern about his constituent’s detention, not least the discouraging remarks from state authorities in Punjab, which he explicitly called out. He said: ‘Since nearly day one in this case, state authorities specifically in the Punjab have been quite open that they believe my constituent to be guilty. They have conducted a trial by media and they have made it quite clear that they expect him to be found guilty if a trial should ever take place. That clearly undermines the very principle of due process in the Republic of India and that really should concern us all.’

He also addressed concerning reports in the Indian media, notably a ‘set pattern of a series of seemingly well-informed leaks and briefings to Indian media regarding the case’ that had an ‘often sinister, if not sectarian, air.’ The minister said that while he was not alleging such activities had taken place, any such activities would not be an acceptable state of affairs.

Several MPs raised the recent case of Matthew Hedges, who has been pardoned by the government of the United Arab Emirates following swift and decisive intervention from the Foreign Secretary. When asked why it had taken so long in Jagtar’s case compared to Matthew Hedges’, Martin Docherty-Hughes replied: ‘If I had the answer to that we wouldn’t need to have this debate on the floor of this House today.’ The Foreign Office minister however was adamant that it would be ‘unfair to draw or make any implications about comparisons in particular cases,’ adding: ‘There is no suggestion that there is a preferential treatment because of any cultural or other difficulties that may apply.’ This did not address the specific point raised by Martin Docherty-Hughes who highlighted ‘the inconsistency of the narrative of other cases where the Foreign Secretary – both the present one and their predecessor – have unequivocally opened their doors to meet certain families of specific cases.’ The minister was keen to adopt a cautious tone, explaining: ‘For every win, as it were – of that description – there are many other cases where perhaps, as I say, under the radar we are working extremely hard for many, many months without quick and positive results.’

Furthermore, the debate explored the role of Martin Docherty-Hughes as a constituency MP. Members across the House were united in the belief that British politicians could not dictate to the Indian legal and judicial systems. Jagtar’s MP said: ‘My duty to my constituent is to highlight that serious charges have been laid and I must only hope they are tested in a manner consistent with the laws and practices of the Republic of India.’ He added that the pillars of the rule of law and of due process ‘are being sorely tested in Jagtar’s case.’ While the minister agreed that the laws and systems of other countries needed to be respected, he said: ‘We can intervene on behalf of British nationals where they are not treated in line with international accepted standards or if there are unreasonable delays or procedures.’ The minister did not respond to a question from Docherty-Hughes which cited the diplomatic implications of Brexit: ‘What type of trade will we have where we might sacrifice our own ability to defend democracy and its pillars for free trade?’

The Foreign Office minister also issued a formal apology to Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet, saying he was ‘deeply apologetic’ for not responding to his Freedom of Information request in a timely manner. He closed the debate by saying: ‘The fact that we have this debate here today, I think, will make it very clear to the Indian authorities, to the new Indian High Commissioner here in London, that we are ready to continue to raise our concerns about his case at the highest levels and will continue to do so until there is a resolution of these matters.’ It remains to be seen whether that will include a meeting between Jagtar Singh’s brother, his MP, and the Foreign Secretary.

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#FreeJaggiNow statement on Matthew Hedges’ release

Earlier today (26.11.18) overseas British prisoner Matthew Hedges was pardoned from his imprisonment just one week after being convicted as a spy and handed a life sentence last in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This came after intervention from the Foreign Office and British consulate, as emphasised by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a public statement.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt is yet to even name Jagtar Singh Johal, British Sikh political prisoner, who has been detained in India for over one year now, and has completely ignored requests to meet Jagtar Singh’s family. This situation prompted public outcry against Hunt’s contrasting treatment to Jagtar Singh and his family.

Here Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh, a lead of the Free Jaggi Now, reacts to the Matthew Hedges’ release in regards to his own brother’s situation.


 

 

Today the world saw that through swift and decisive intervention from the Foreign Secretary, Matthew Hedges has been pardoned from his imprisonment in UAE and will be returning home.

The fact that supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign saw this happen before our eyes after a year of constant campaigning has only led to more hurt and frustration regarding Jaggi’s situation, something evident through a reaction seen on social media.

 

I know exactly what Matthew’s family has been going through, for I have been going through the same myself. I welcome the fact that tonight, one less family is suffering the hell I am.

 

Jeremy Hunt’s actions over the past week have proved that the government does have considerable influence in aiding innocent Britons overseas. Every effort has been put in for a British citizen named Matthew Hedges; nothing has been done for a British citizen named Jagtar Singh Johal.

You can come to your own conclusions as to why.

 

I have asked the Foreign Secretary several times for a meeting to discuss Jagtar’s detainment. These requests have been consistently denied and ignored. But he met Matthew’s wife, and rightly praised her for her fortitude. What makes Mathew Hedges’ family more important than mine to the Foreign Secretary?

My brother has still not been granted private consular access. Despite putting himself in incredible danger to tell the government of his torture, this government has not even been able to secure him an independent medical examination. In April, the Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office visited Punjab where my brother was being held but decided to totally ignore the tortured British citizen detained just miles away.

Nobody can call what Jagtar is going through a fair legal process. It has been more than a year since the Chief Minister of Punjab boasted that the authorities had all the evidence against Jagtar. Yet despite 70 shoddy judicial hearings no evidence of any kind has been presented against my brother. The Foreign Secretary has spoken out against the lack of evidence against Matthew Hedges while remaining silent on the lack of evidence against Jagtar.

 

In all this, Jeremy Hunt has clearly demonstrated the government’s double standards.  I ask all those celebrating Matthew Hedges’ release to now turn their attention to the plight of my brother. Together, if we all speak out, maybe we can see our government give a British Sikh prisoner the same treatment Matthew Hedges has received.

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Film on Sikh boxer set for November 30th premiere

Tiger, a biopic based on former amateur boxing champion Pardeep Singh Nagra’s battle to fight boxing’s beard ban, is set for release across North America on November 30th. Starring Mickey Rourke and Prem Singh, the film is seen as a historic breakthrough for Sikh art, with its retelling of a modern day tale of Sikh principal being put before individual ambition in the face of Western discrimination.


 

The film is to be premiered in California, New York, Ontario and British Columbia on November 30th and shown throughout the week. Details;

New York, all day screenings at Regal E-Walk Stadium 13 & RPX from November 30th onwards. Tickets available here.

Los Angeles, all day screenings at Cinemark 18 from November 30th onwards. Tickets available here.

Toronto, all day screenings at Cineplex Courtney Park from November 30th onwards. Tickets available here.

Vancouver, all day screenings at International Village from November 30th onwards. Tickets available here.

Note, the websites are being continually updated. If there is no link for Tiger, please check later.

 

Tiger - poster

In 1999 Pardeep Singh Nagra, became the Ontario amateur boxing flyweight champion. His achievement of winning the prestigious title presented him with an opportunity to possibly compete in the Olympics.

However, an obstacle was placed before his efforts in taking his boxing career further, one that would challenge his commitment to his faith.

As a practicing Sikh, Pardeep Singh wore a turban and kept his kes (unshorn hair), something mandated as part of Sikh practice. Amateur boxing across the world has had a beard ban in place since its inception, something upheld still to this day by AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association). Despite the huge opportunity placed before him, Pardeep Singh recognised the long history of Sikh fortitude and sacrifice that came with the keeping of the distinct physical Sikh identity.

For this reason, Pardeep Singh decided to take on another fight, this time, outside of the ring. What came next was a courtroom battle between Canada’s boxing association and Pardeep Singh, one of the very few (and possibly at the time only) Sikh boxers competing at an elite amateur level, which is usually a precursor for a successful professional career.

This courtroom battle was fought simultaneously with his in-ring battles, both of which were inspired by his Sikh faith. Pardeep Singh Nagra changed boxing forever, and Tiger is the tale of how he did it.

Trailer

 

Website: Thetigermovie.com

Twitter: @TigerMovie2018

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tigermovie2018/

Instagram: @tigerthemovie

Two men convicted for role in 1984 Sikh Genocide

A court in India has convicted and sentenced two men for their roles in the 1984 Sikh genocide.

The two men, Yashpal Singh and Naresh Sherawat, were respectively given the death sentence and life imprisonment for their role in the killing of Sikh men 24 year-old Hardev Singh and 26 year-old Avtar Singh 34 years ago. The verdict was announced inside Delhi’s Tihar Jail where the men were being detained due to security concerns about their safety.
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The convictions were made stemming from a special investigation unit assigned in 2015 to look into cases around the Sikh genocide. Eye witness testimony was crucial in convicting both men for their part in the mob killing of the Sikh men in Mahipalpur. However, Sikh eye witness testimony has not been taken into consideration for countless other possible convictions, including most famously the role of politicians such as Jagdish Tytler (caught on film talking about his role in the massacres), Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath.

The special investigation team have probed 60 cases out of the total 293, with this being the first where they have succeeded in getting a conviction. The team filed “untraced report” in 52 cases whilst the others are being investigated, including some which name Congress politician Sajjan Kumar.

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Sikhs across the world have continually sought justice for those impacted in the genocide, which saw an estimated 30,000 killed in state facilitated mob attacks across the nation. The attacks also left approximately 300,000 Sikhs displaced/homeless, whilst the toll of women raped and property looted remains unaccounted. These figures come from grassroots investigation undertaken by Sikh groups and are supported by various Sikh organisations, such as the WaheGru Foundation, Sikh Relief, Sikhs For Justice and more.
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Media across the world describe the genocide as ‘riots’ and suggest the death toll to be approximately 3000. The Sikh Press Association categorically reject both suggestions. ‘Riots’ downplays what was a targeted and systematic massacre against Sikhs across India, whilst the figure of 3000 comes from an Indian government survey only conducted in Delhi, a year after the genocide had taken place, something which no media outlets seem to be pointing out. The Sikh Press Association continue to push for a more balanced narrative in regards to language and facts about the 1984 Sikh genocide.

Sikh PA senior press officer Jasveer Singh said of the case, “It is very disappointing that the general understanding in the media of what occurred in 1984 is still so skewed. The fact that the prosecution themselves outright called what occurred in 1984 a genocide in this very case, yet headlines still say ‘riots’ speaks volumes about how far most journalists have looked into this case. There is a regurgitation of the same narrative pumped out by the Indian state, themselves complicit in this genocide, that has continued since 1984. The Sikh Press Association remain determined to have media outlets, particularly those in the west where there is more press freedom, to report on the 1984 Sikh genocide in a more balanced way.”

The 1984 Sikh genocide massacres started after India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards for her role in the infamous Indian army assault Operation Blue Star, an attack on revered holy Sikh site Sri Harmandir Sahib, on one of the Gurdwara’s busiest days of the year; commemoration of the shaheedi (martyrdom) of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The attack was aimed at removing Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhindranwale, a Sikh educator, activist and community leader, from the complex along with his supporters. Sant Jarnail Singh, a revered Saint of the Sikh faith, was perceived as a threat to the government for his promotion of Sikh sovereignty and support of devolution of government powers.

Yashpal Singh’s death punishment in the anti-Sikh riots is the first since 1996 when Kishori Lal, a butcher, was sentenced to death in at least five cases by lower courts. The Supreme Court later changed Lal’s conviction to life in prison.

Ironically, this life sentence is the same sentence many Sikh political prisoners have received for their roles in pushing for a free Sikh homeland – Khalistan – following the genocide which made many Sikhs feel India was no longer a safe nation for the community. Many of these Sikh political prisoners are still in jail despite being elderly and having served 20+ years in jail. A point of contention for Sikh activists is the fact these prisoners were also largely sentenced based on the now defunct TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities) law, described as ‘draconian’ by human rights advocacy organisations and consequently removed in 1995.

Whilst the likes of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal welcomed the convictions, many Sikhs will not be celebrating the verdict, expressing the sentiment that justice delayed is justice denied.