Punjab Police Denounce Campaign to Free UK Citizen Accused of Supporting Terror Activities
British MPs Preet Gill and Martin Docherty-Hughes expressed concern for Jagtar Singh Johal, who was arrested for allegedly facilitating funds to terror module.
A day after British MP Preet Kaur Gill hit out at the Punjab government for not being forthcoming with the charges against UK citizen Jagtar Singh Johal, the Punjab Police said that he radicalized youth and was facilitating funds, weapons and logistic support to a terror module responsible for six deaths.
“We will be presenting all evidence in the court,” said a Punjab Police spokesperson, according to Tribune. He has not been charged with any crime and his police custody was extended to Nov. 17. Johal’s lawyer said that he was given electric shocks by the police, who also used “body separation techniques” on him.
In a statement released last week, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and state Director General of Police Suresh Arora accused Johal of financing purchase of weapons for the murder of prominent RSS leaders in the state.
Apart from Gill, Martin Docherty-Hughes, SNP MP for West Dunbartonshire, also offered his support to Johal’s family. “I am deeply concerned about the circumstances of Jagtar Singh Johal’s arrest and imprisonment in India,” Docherty-Hughes said.
Johal, a resident of Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, was arrested from the streets of Jalandhar in Punjab on Nov. 4 by policemen dressed in plain clothes. His lawyer and officials of the British Consulate have not been allowed to meet him, according to Gill’s statement.
His brother Gurpreet told STV news: “I am outraged by this. My brother has been tortured and when I saw the pictures from the court he looks emaciated and has lost a lot of weight.” He also told BBC that his family has had no access to Johal since his arrest. Johal was in Jalandhar for his wedding.
Gill is the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs. She said that the Punjab CM’s use of the word “interrogation” is concerning, and added that the Indian government should have shared information with the British government if Johal was connected to criminal or terror-related activities.
Online Campaign for Release
A campaign #freejagginow has been started by Johal’s family, in which Docherty-Hughes and New York-based poet Rupi Kaur also participated.
u.k. citizen jagtar singh—an activist vocal about human rights abuses—was visiting india for his wedding when abducted by police. since then he’s been illegally detained tortured & electrocuted w/o process#freejagginow pic.twitter.com/bqPrynrl2J
— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) November 15, 2017
1984 vs. 1995 vs. 2017
— your life is worth a loonie on the streets (@RoadKillAman) November 15, 2017
— Martin Docherty (@MartinJDocherty) November 12, 2017
The Punjab Police denounced those running the campaign, saying that the campaigners were ignoring those who used the British soil to run terror activities in the Indian state.
“He sent money through non-banking channels and radicalized the youth,” the police spokesperson added. The police also said that Johal was a Khalistan ideologue working with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and the Khalistan Liberation Force.
A spokesperson from the UK Foreign Office told BBC, “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.”
British MPs are facing demands to take action against Johal’s arrest. “The prime minister and foreign secretary will feel our pressure in the next seven days in parliament via hundreds of MPs who have been contacted by constituents who are unhappy with the lack of action to secure Jagtar’s immediate release and return to the UK,” Bhai Amrik Singh, the chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said.
A statement by the Sikh Federation on Facebook says: “In our view this is to allow the police to continue with their brutal torture to try and extract a false confession in the absence on any evidence against Jagtar Singh, who only visited Punjab this year to get engaged and married. His passport, that has been lodged by the family with the British High Commission in Delhi, proves he has not been to Pakistan as claimed by the police and the Chief Minister of Punjab.”