The brother of a Scottish Sikh detained in India without trial has met the foreign secretary, calling for the UK Government to push for his release.
Gurpreet Singh Johal has been campaigning for his brother’s release and met Liz Truss on Thursday, June 6, his brother’s 1679th day in detention.
Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested on November 4, 2017, after travelling to the Punjab for his wedding.
Jagtar, known as Jaggi, was due to have a hearing on Thursday to set a date for the charges against him to be set out.
Local reports connect his arrest to the killing of Hindu leaders. The hearing was adjourned, something that has now happened on several occasions.
“This morning, Jagtar had his 183rd pre-trial hearing, and like all the others, it ended in another delay,” said Gurpreet.
“The prosecution still hasn’t presented any real evidence linking him to this supposed conspiracy.”
Last month, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that there was no legal basis for Jagtar’s continued detention in India, citing multiple violations of his human rights.
Gurpreet has been calling for the UK Government to intervene in Jaggi’s release.
“I am grateful to the foreign secretary for meeting me. She knows how high the stakes are – that my brother faces a death sentence – and said she will raise his case at the highest level at every opportunity,” said Gurpreet, “I stressed how urgent it is and she seemed to get it. So I guess now we’ll see if her actions match her words.”
Human Rights charity Reprieve is supporting Gurpreet as he fight’s for his brother’s release.
“Boris Johnson wouldn’t meet with Jagtar’s family as foreign secretary and neither would Dominic Raab, so this is a welcome sign of progress,” said Maya Foa, Reprieve director.
“Almost five years after Jagtar was snatched off the street and tortured by Indian police, what’s needed is swift, decisive action to bring him home.”
Jaggi’s MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes, also met with Truss and urged her to step-up efforts to bring him home.
“This afternoon I and Jagtar’s brother had a productive meeting with the foreign secretary, taking time to explain the situation as we have seen it over the last four and a half years and the foreign secretary listened intently to what we had to say,” Docherty-Hughes said.
“The Republic of India has a respected and independent legal system which has been the basis of a strong democracy, and we must hope that they take the findings of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention very seriously: we hope that Jagtar can be able to meet his wife and family again for the first time in so long at home in Dumbarton.”
A Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson said: “We have consistently raised our concerns about Mr Johal’s case with the Government of India, including his allegations of torture and mistreatment and his right to a fair trial.
“The Prime Minister raised the case with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi when they met in Delhi on April 22.”