June 10, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: A Scottish Sikh from Dumbarton who went to India to get married has been held in an Indian jail for nearly 220 days without charge and it has now been revealed that Indian police officers not only tortured him, but brought in petrol into the interrogation room and threatened to burn him alive.
Jagtar Singh Johal, 31, was abducted while out shopping with his newly-wed wife and cousin sister. He was hooded and forced into an unmarked police van on 4 November last year.
We have been given permission to share a handwritten account of Jagtar testifying to his treatment that we have been asked to make public by his family for the first time. Jagtar describes being “stripped and beaten” and tortured repeatedly over a number of days.
Jagtar Singh Jaggi wrote: “The torture took place intermittently, numerous times each day. Electric shocks were administered by placing crocodile clips on my ear lobes, nipples and private parts.” He continues “since then I have had problems urinating”.
He states Indian police beat him, attached electrodes to his nipples and genitals, threatened to take him to a remote location and shoot him dead in a fake encounter and suggested they would douse him in petrol and set him alight.
Police officers also threatened to do the same to his family and orders were given to arrest his wife and cousin sister who were with him when he was abducted if he did not make a false confession as they had no evidence against him.
He states “police forced me to make recordings in which I had to narrate according to what they were telling me to say” and “blank papers were also forcibly signed” as well as other documents he was not allowed to read.
We can also reveal the Government of India has failed to respond to an urgent appeal from three high level United Nations experts to investigate the serious allegations of torture of Jagtar.
A joint urgent appeal to the Government of India was sent on 29 January 2018 by the Special Rapporteur on Torture; the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
In the urgent appeal, they called on India to respond to the serious allegations of torture and to provide information about the measures taken to prevent any further torture or ill-treatment; the legal basis for Jagtar’s arrest and detention; and the results of any medical examination that may have been conducted.
The Indian Government has so far refused to respond to the UN experts. A month earlier on 4 May 2018 Sikh Federation (UK) representatives joined Jagtar’s family members in Geneva for a meeting with UN officials to discuss next steps as India had not responded within the three month protocol.
The UN has now made its urgent appeal public in a report to the UN Human Rights Council that will meet from 18 June to 6 July in Geneva. Jagtar’s brother and his MP Martin Docherty-Hughes are due to meet Mark Field, the UK Foreign Minister responsible for relations with India as the UN Human Rights Council starts its 38th session.
Prime Minister Theresa May last raised the case of Jagtar during a visit from the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London on 18 April and Mark Field raised his case with M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, during his visit to New Delhi on 7 May.
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), who joined Jagtar’s family in the meeting with UN officials last month said: “The Indian authorities have no evidence against Jagtar that would stand up in court and that is why they tortured him and threatened to burn him alive or shoot him dead in a fake encounter.”
“According to Jagtar’s handwritten note that the UK Government and the UN experts have been aware of for many months they also threatened his newly-wed wife and cousin sister with the ‘same treatment’.”
“We now know that during the torture and death threats to him and his family members the Indian police forced Jagtar to sign blank papers and other documents and make false video recordings saying exactly what they wanted him to say to implicate him.”
“The Indian police then leaked the so-called ‘confessional video’ to the Indian media knowing they had no evidence and this information could not be used in a court of law.”
“The 2,000 page charge sheet only has 12 lines relevant to Jagtar that simply repeat what was in the police confessional video that would normally be inadmissible in court.”
“What Jagtar said on video under police duress can be disproved as inaccurate by those he mentioned he met in 2013 that are still living in the UK or Italy. Although less than two months ago, the Indian police murdered in prison the other person they were trying to connect his with from 5 years ago.”
“Jagtar’s family, the Sikh community and at least 250 UK MPs that have had letters from constituents regarding Jagtar and written to the Foreign Office have waited patiently for the UK Government for the last seven months.”
“In Parliament first the Foreign Office Minister promised MPs ‘extreme action’ against India for torturing and threatening an innocent British national, but in recent months before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London to be attended by Narendra Modi this became we do not believe in ‘megaphone diplomacy’ when it comes to India.”
“We believe these public revelations demand the UK Government take the extreme action they promised MPs or it will show they are too weak to protect an innocent British national from torture and death threats.”
The Indian High Commission in London has refused to comment on the Indian Government’s failure to respond to UN human rights experts and the latest revelations from Jagtar’s handwritten account has was shared with the UK Government and UN human rights experts months earlier, the Sikh Federation UK said in a written statement (copy available with Sikh Siyasat News).
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Related Topics: Amnesty International, Congress Government in Punjab 2017-2022, Human Rights, Indian State, Jagtar Singh Johal alias Jaggi (UK), Punjab Police, Redress, Sikh Federation UK, Sikh News UK, Sikh Political Prisoners, Sikhs in United Kingdom, Torture, UNHRC