**Distraught wife appeals to Boris Johnson for personal intervention to secure release and safe return of tortured Scottish husband on 4th anniversary of arbitrary detention in Indian jail ** London – 4 November 2021
Today marks the 4th anniversary of the torture and arbitrary detention in an Indian jail of Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton. Gurpreet Kaur Johal, the wife of the imprisoned Scot has written and made an emotional appeal to Boris Johnson asking for his personal intervention to secure Jagtar’s release and safe return.
4 years earlier plain clothes Indian police officers abducted Jagtar, by putting a hood over his head and bundling him into a van while he was out shopping with his wife in Punjab. This was barely two weeks after they were married.
She initially thought he had been kidnapped as he was from the UK. She had no idea of the identity of the perpetrators and where her husband had been taken.
Later it emerged these were Indian police officers and her husband was taken to an undisclosed location and subject to third degree torture for several days.
At one point during his torture kerosene was brought into his prison cell where police threatened to burn him alive.
Police officers also warned Jagtar they would brutalise his newly wedded wife unless he provided information or confessed to crimes he did not commit. At the weekend she joined protesters in Glasgow on the eve of COP26 and emotionally appealed to Martin Docherty-Hughes her MP for West Dunbartonshire and Sikh community leaders from across the UK who were present to escalate the campaign for her husband’s release and safe return.
Speaking to representatives of the Sikh Federation (UK), including the Chair, Bhai Amrik Singh, Gurpreet asked why the UK government had forgotten her husband, did his life not matter to them and do they treat all their citizen’s this way if they end up in countries like India where torture is commonplace and the legal system corrupt?
She asked why won’t the UK government help him? Why won’t they bring him back home to me? How long will I be alone? I can’t take this loneliness anymore, no one knows how it feels for me to have lost 4 years at the start of our married life and unable to start a family until my husband returns. She went on to question why Dominic Raab refused to meet with her and Jagtar’s family while he was Foreign Secretary for over two years and used the opportunity to criticise the Home Office for trying to have her deported.
She explained she had no faith in the Indian judicial system or Indian politicians, but she had higher hopes of UK politicians. Martin Docherty Hughes MP and others like Preet Kaur Gill MP, who she will be meeting next week in Glasgow have been very supportive. Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have all been supportive.
However, the inaction and lack of progress by Government Ministers in the last 4 years has left her thinking the UK government ignores the plight of its own citizens when It comes to India.
Martin Docherty-Hughes MP yesterday raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). He said: “The Prime Minister is very much aware of my constituent Jagtar Singh Johal, who was abducted by plainclothes officers while shopping with his new wife in the city of Jallandhar, Punjab on the 4th of November.
“The intervening years, Mr Speaker, have seen allegations of torture overlooked and ostensibly strong words from his government about the case overshadowed by excitement over a trade deal with the Republic of India.
“Therefore, Mr Speaker, as we approach the fourth anniversary of Jagtar’s arrest tomorrow, with no charges having been brought in the case by the government of India, will this government be able to grant the smallest of favours to Jagtar’s wife and his family in Dumbarton and declare his detention an arbitrary one.”
Boris Johnson replied: “Mr Speaker, I thank him for the campaign that he’s been running for a long time. And what I would say to him is that the closeness of our relationship with India in no way diminishes our willingness to raise that case with the government of India. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary raised it only the last time she was in India.”
In April 2019 Gurpreet Kaur Johal came to the UK to meet the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. He told her and Jagtar’s brother in confidence that Jagtar would not get a fair trial in India.
Two and a half years later and after Boris Johnson’s response at PMQs yesterday’s she has written to him appealing for him to intervene as it is UK policy to act where British nationals are being arbitrarily detained abroad. She is also facing the additional trauma that Jagtar is facing the death penalty.
In her letter to the PM, she has requested that Liz Truss who became Foreign Secretary six weeks ago to urgently meet with her as the PM stated at PMQs yesterday that she had raised her husband’s case when she was in India last week.
Gurpreet Kaur Johal said:
“Today marks 4 years since that terrifying day when the police snatched and kidnapped Jaggi from my arms. I still have nightmares of that day and the subsequent torture of Jaggi.”
“I need Liz Truss as the Foreign Secretary and as a wife to look me in the eye and tell me when I will be reunited with my husband. I am suffering in silence and finding it difficult to continue. I want her to meet with me so she can hear about my pain.”
“Jeremy Hunt told me two and half years ago Jagtar would not get a fair trial and this has proved true. No evidence has been presented in court and the case has been repeatedly adjourned.”
“United Nations special rapporteurs, Redress and Reprieve have taken on the case and called for Jagtar’s immediate release.”
“The UK government must listen and act to secure the release and return of my husband after 4 years of incarceration.”
“We were hopeful all charges would be dropped against Jagtar at the last hearing in October 2021, but the case was adjourned once again until January 2022 as the Indian authorities were unable to produce any evidence in court.”
“All I want and pray for is that my husband comes back home and we can start our life together, but I worry for his and my mental and physical health due to all this suffering.”
ENDS Harnek Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)