Thousands expected to show solidarity with #WestMidlands3 outside Westminster Magistrates Court as extradition trial begins
London - 22 September 2021
Three British Sikh men today begin a battle against extradition to India where they will almost certainly be tortured and face the death penalty. Thousands of Sikhs are expected to peacefully protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court this morning.
Within days of Dominic Raab’s visit to India to discuss a trade deal in December 2020 the #WestMidlands3 had their homes raided in the early hours and they were arrested on the order of Priti Patel and told they faced extradition to India.
The three were brought to Westminster Magistrates Court and told of the charges made by India against them. Despite the seriousness of the charges the judge was concerned with timing of the extradition request and the three were given bail.
The Indian authorities claim the men were involved in an attack on a member of the Hindutva extremist militant group the RSS twelve years ago in 2009 when the three men were in the 20s -even though they were not in the country when the incident happened.
The #WestMidlands3 were originally investigated by the British authorities, based on the Indian State allegations more than a decade earlier, with the investigation concluding no further action was required against them, clearing them of any wrongdoing.
There is concern among the British Sikh community that the attempted extradition is politically motivated and aimed at silencing Sikh activists.
The #WestMidlands3 case is believed to be the first time British Sikhs – born and raised in the UK have been targeted in such a fashion by India. Two of the three were targeted in September 2018 when 5 Sikhs associated with the #FreeJaggiNow campaign had their homes raided.
The raids were according to Indian media due to “diplomatic pressure” from India. Laptops, phones, and other personal items – including those belonging to the children of the men – were confiscated and kept for investigation for over a year. There were no arrests or charges following the raids that were assumed to try and find anything that could be used by the Indian authorities to incriminate Jagtar Singh Johal who is coming up to his 4th anniversary of arbitrary detention and torture in an Indian jail without any evidence to justify keeping him in prison.
The September 2018 raids were said to show a “paper trail” to Jagtar Singh Johal’s detainment in India, according to Gareth Peirce, the highly respected human rights lawyer acting for those facing extradition.
The fact that the #WestMidlands3 are again being targeted is believed to be linked to their work in providing support for the #FreeJaggiNow campaign. It is believed – as suggested by Gareth Peirce – that during his torture, Jagtar Singh Johal was shown photographs of UK-based Sikh activists he had worked with.
An online parliamentary petition has recently been started calling for the extradition treaty between the UK and India to be revoked. The petition is attracting around 1,000 signatures a day and has reached the 10,000 threshold that requires a response from the UK Government. Constituents for nearly 500 MPs have signed the petition. Around 30 MPs have had more than 100 constituents sign the petition.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“We have been assisting the #WestMidlands3 since the raids on their homes in September 2018, arrests in December 2020 and in their legal challenge against extradition.
“On the basis of human rights there is absolutely no way a British court could sanction their extradition to India where they will be tortured and face the death penalty.
“However, we have a Home Secretary, in Priti Patel who is very close to the right wing BJP government in India and she will bend over backwards to assist India, especially if it helps in trade negotiations.
Harnek Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)