• Monday, March 04, 2024

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Cameron pledges to help Scot imprisoned in India

Jagtar Singh Johal was arrested following his journey to India for his wedding

Jagtar Singh Johal (Image credit: Facebook/Free Jaggi Now)

By: Pramod Thomas

FOREIGN SECRETARY David Cameron has pledged to help Jagtar Singh Johal, a Scottish man imprisoned in India for over six years, and has vowed to push for an investigation into allegations of torture, reported The Times.

Johal, 36, was detained in Punjab in 2017 after travelling to India for his wedding.

Indian authorities accuse Johal of involvement in the murder of Ravinder Gosain, a Hindu nationalist leader.

However, Johal, a blogger and political activist from Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, asserts his innocence, claiming he was coerced into signing blank papers. Reports reveal disturbing accounts of abuse, including beatings and threats of violence.

Cameron expressed his commitment to resolving Johal’s case, noting the UK government’s consistent expression of concern.

The issue was raised by prime minister Rishi Sunak during discussions with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi. Additionally, Lord Ahmad raised Johal’s situation with Indian officials on multiple occasions.

While Cameron promised to advocate for investigations into Johal’s allegations of torture and to press for the implementation of a court order allowing family video calls, he stopped short of actively calling for Johal’s release.

He cited concerns about interfering with India’s legal system, which could impact the UK’s ability to provide consular assistance.

“As well as the need for a resolution in the case, which must include investigations into Johal’s allegations of torture, we have been clear in the need for the implementation of a 18 November court order, mandating family video calls for Johal,” Cameron wrote to his brother Gurpreet Singh Johal.

But, Gurpreet criticised Cameron’s stance, describing it as a failure and political cowardice.

He also emphasised the urgency of securing his brothers release rather than minor improvements to his conditions.

Last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention asserted that Mr. Johal’s ongoing pre-trial detention lacks legal foundation and is deemed arbitrary.

Melissa Dring, from Reprieve, a human rights group advocating for Johal’s release, criticised the UK government’s inaction. She highlighted Johal’s dire situation, emphasising the lack of effort by ministers to secure his release due to concerns about upsetting Indian authorities.

Meanwhile, Indian authorities maintain that due process is being followed in Johal’s case.

Eastern Eye

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