Friday, July 19, 2024

Brother hopes Cameron can secure release of British Sikh jailed in India: Report

The brother of British Sikh Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained in an Indian jail since 2017 over terror charges, has said he is “hopeful” that the UK’s new foreign secretary will be able to secure his release.

Gurpreet Singh Johal said while the family feels let-down by the UK government, they hope that former PM David Cameron, who returned to politics after a reshuffle last week, can make a difference, The Standard newspaper reported.

“We’re hopeful that this Foreign Secretary… well first of all he has to meet us to confirm exactly what he is going to be doing to bring Jagtar back home, but really enough is enough because this government has really let down Jagtar and his family over the last six years,” Gurpreet, who is a lawyer and Labour councillor in Dumbarton, said.

“We’re hopeful that the sixth foreign secretary after six years might do something that the other foreign secretaries have failed to do,” Gurpreet said speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ programme. Dumbarton-based Johal was in Punjab for his wedding when he was arrested in Jalandhar on November 4, 2017, over his alleged role in killings by the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), a banned terrorist organisation. According to his family, the 36-year-old has been tortured, including through electric shocks, before being made to sign a blank confession document — allegations that have been denied by the Indian authorities.

He is currently being held at the Tihar Jail in Delhi and faces a possible death penalty over 10 accusations of murder and conspiracy to murder.

“We’re hopeful that the contacts David Cameron has made over the years when he was the prime minister will be able to allow him to use that leverage and to do what all other foreign secretaries have failed to do and basically call for Jagtar’s release,” Gurpreet said, referring to UK government’s arbitrary detention policy.

Last year, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that the “continued pre-trial detention of Johal lacks legal basis and is arbitrary”.

A group of more than 70 MPs had called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to seek “immediate release” of Johal, as he travelled to New Delhi in September to attend the G20 leaders’ summit.

Sunak confirmed that he raised Johal’s case during his talks with counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the summit, but didn’t provide details. Gurpreet said he last spoke to Jagtar on October 18.

“He is hopeful in the next six months or so that he could at least be out on bail but that’s as much as I know because I don’t know what situation he is in.

“He is trying to put light at the end of the tunnel by thinking that he will be out in the next six months at least on bail,” Gurpreet told BBC Radio.

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