Humza Yousaf urges PM to act over case of Scots blogger jailed in India

Jagtar Singh Johal was arrested in 2017, while in Punjab for his wedding.

Humza Yousaf urges PM to act over case of Scots blogger Jagtar Singh Johal jailed in India Reprieve

First Minister Humza Yousaf urged the Prime Minister to ask the Indian government for the release of a Scottish blogger who has been in jail there for more than five years.

Yousaf wrote Sunak on Saturday, saying that Sikh blogger Jagtar Singh Johal has been wrongfully imprisoned and urged him to take a “direct approach” to make progress in the case.

Mr Singh Johal, born in Scotland and from Dumbarton, was in Punjab in northern India for his wedding in 2017 when his family say he was arrested and bundled into an unmarked car.

Yousaf said he has been accused of terrorist activity, including involvement in the murder of Hindu nationalist leader Ravinder Gosain in 2015.

He added that Mr Singh Johal has been tortured, including through electric shocks, and is facing the death penalty.

In his letter, the First Minister said: “Jagtar has now been imprisoned in India for over 2,000 days.

“In May 2022, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Jagtar Singh Johal had been arbitrarily detained and his detention breached international human rights law.

“The clear recommendation of the report was that Jagtar Singh Johal should be immediately released. Yet Jagtar remains in prison.

“I am therefore writing to ask that you make a direct approach to the Government of India to ask for Jagtar’s immediate release in line with the UN Working Group’s unequivocal recommendation.

“This would give the family the reassurance of knowing that the UK Government is prioritising the protection of a citizen who has been wrongfully imprisoned.”

Yousaf met Gurpreet Singh Johal, the brother of Jagtar Singh Johal, earlier this month and vowed to keep lobbying for his release.

The Government has been criticised for taking a “very long time” to resolve Mr Johal’s case, with the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe accusing MI5 and MI6 of supplying information that led to the Scottish Sikh blogger’s abduction and torture.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was released from prison in Iran in March 2022, joined a protest in central London last year year to call on the UK Government to do more for Mr Singh Johal.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We have consistently raised our concerns about Mr Johal’s case directly with the government of India, including his allegations of torture and his right to a fair trial – we are committed to doing what we can to assist him.”

The Foreign Office said it has raised its concerns, including Mr Johal’s allegations of torture, with the Indian government on more than 100 occasions and will continue to do so.

It said consular staff visit him regularly to check on his welfare and did so most recently on May 1. They also continue to attend relevant court hearings in an observer capacity.

The Foreign Secretary most recently discussed Mr Johal’s case with the Indian external affairs minister in New Delhi on March 1.

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