September 15, 2018 | By Gurjeet Singh
by Gurjeet Singh*
London – 14 September 2018
A three day Sikh convention expected to attract in excess of 10,000 Sikhs begins today at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Willenhall in the West Midlands.
The 35th Annual International Sikh Convention is organised by the Sikh Federation (UK), often referred to as the first and only Sikh political party.
On Sunday, the final day of the Convention, those present will hear from Sikh representatives from over 15 countries on a range of issues.
Over 200 UK Gurdwaras will be represented on Sunday when five resolutions are expected to be unanimously passed and three major announcements made.
One of the resolutions relates to the UK Government taking all steps necessary to secure the immediate release of Jagtar Singh Johal.
On 4 November it will mark a year since a sack was put over Jagtar’s head while he was out shopping with his newly wed wife and he was bundled into a van.
Three days of third degree torture immediately followed resulting in him being unable to walk and as police officers threatened to pour kerosene over him and burn him alive or execute him in a fake encounter.
Within days of his abduction the UK Government promised in Parliament that extreme action would be taken against the Indian authorities for the mistreatment of the Scot from Dumbarton who was simply in India to get married.
Jagtar has now been in prison for over 300 days on trumped up charges with no evidence yet presented in court despite over 50 appearances.
The resolution at the Convention will urge the UK Government to take all necessary steps working with other governments and those at the United Nations to secure Jagtar’s immediate release so he can be reunited with his family in Dumbarton.
The British Deputy High Commissioner, Andrew Ayre has asked to meet Sikh representatives on 25 September when he visits the UK where Jagtar’s case along with other issues relevant to Sikhs and the Punjab will be discussed.
Andrew Ayre has also been pressured by the Sikh Federation (UK) so he has now agreed to meet with Jagtar’s elder brother Gurpreet Singh Johal during his visit to the UK.
The two local MPs – Eddie Hughes, the Conservative MP for Walsall North who met the Foreign Secretary about Jagtar’s case and Valerie Vaz, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons will also be speaking about the widespread support of MPs for Jagtar being reunited with his family as soon as possible.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“Jagtar’s family has been patiently waiting for the UK Government to take the extreme action against India promised in Parliament. No country should be allowed to treat British citizens in this way.”
“The Punjab authorities appear to have no evidence against Jagtar and he must be released without delay. Our fear is British pressure is falling on deaf ears and Jagtar could be in prison for 2-3 wasted years despite being innocent.”
“We were however shocked to hear this morning that the British Deputy High Commissioner from Chandigarh who will be visiting the UK later this month has not arranged to meet Jagtar’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes who we spoke to earlier today.”
“We are amazed the UK diplomat is happy to meet Indian politicians and officials to discuss Jagtar’s case, but he has failed to reach out to his MP when he visits the UK.”
“Boris Johnson after repeated challenge eventually agreed in Parliamentary debate to meet Martin Docherty-Hughes. However, since his resignation Jeremey Hunt the new Foreign Secretary has to date failed to honour this commitment or meet the family.”
* Gurjeet Singh is National Press Secretary of the Sikh Federation UK.