November 14, 2018 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
by: Gurjeet Singh*
Around 150 Sikh representatives are lobbying MPs today in Westminster and will disclose a confidential West Midlands police briefing under the name “Operation Tecuma”.
The briefing is about police raids on the homes of five Sikh activists that embarrassingly expose the UK authorities’ underhand involvement in the high profile Jagtar Singh Johal case.
The 3-page defensive briefing for senior police officers in the West Midlands provides ‘lines to take’ in response to a number of questions. The questions include:
· Why is activity in India being investigated by UK police?
· Were the searches carried out in collusion with the Indian or UK governments?
· If there was no collusion with the Indian government, why were the addresses published in the Indian media so quickly?
· Was the intelligence for the searches based on false allegations by the Indian government or the torture of Mr Johal?
· Were police officers from the Indian Police Service or other Indian government agencies involved in the searches?
· Will information obtained from the searches be shared with the Indian Police Service or other Indian government agencies?
The briefing has proved necessary as the West Midlands police and those in Whitehall, almost certainly in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Home Office, have been compromised by statements in the Indian press by senior Punjab police officers.
A senior Punjab police officer was quoted in one leading Indian newspaper as stating “we have received confirmation (of names) from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit” about homes that have been searched.
In another leading Indian newspaper, a Punjab Police officer, said: “The raids were the result of diplomatic pressure created by India on the UK.”
Since the raids on the homes of five Sikh activists West Midlands police stand accused of:
· using intelligence obtained by Indian police during the torture of Jagtar Singh Johal
· involving Indian police in the searches
· sharing intelligence gathered from the raids on the homes of five British Sikh activists with their Indian counterparts and putting them and their families at risk
Today is exactly one year since 31-year old Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton first told his lawyer that he had been subject to third degree torture.
10 days earlier he was abducted by plain clothes Indian police, hooded and thrown into a van whilst out shopping with his newly-wedded wife and cousin sister.
Jagtar travelled to India to get married having been engaged six months earlier in his first visit to Punjab after 7-8 years.
He has been tortured by Indian police, denied all requests for an independent medical examination and outrageously not been given private access to British consular staff.
Within days of his abduction and torture by Indian police and denial of proper access to British consular staff there was a huge outcry by the British Sikh community and over 250 MPs had letters from constituents.
Within a couple of weeks of Jagtar’s abduction and torture Theresa May was compelled to speak to the BBC specifically about his case. The next day in Parliament Rory Stewart, the Foreign Minister stood up and in response to a question from Jagtar’s MP about his torture and threatened the Indian authorities with ‘extreme action’.
Those actions now seem a distant memory.
Jagtar has faced the ordeal of trial by media with so-called confessional police video recordings obtained following his torture being released to the Indian media to manipulate public opinion.
Following numerous court appearances, Jagtar was eventually charged after 6 months in prison, but with nothing more than what was in the confessional video tapes that are inadmissible in a normal court of law.
Jagtar has now made appearances in 60 pre-trial preliminary hearings, but a year on the Indian authorities have produced no credible evidence or witnesses in court.
On the one hand the British authorities acknowledge the failings of the Indian legal system that could result in Jagtar remaining in prison for years before being released without conviction.
However, they appear to be powerless to take any action for a British national they know has been tortured and privately admit is innocent, let alone the ‘extreme action’ promised by the Foreign Minister last November in Parliament.
Instead the police raids on British Sikh activists could be a sign of desperation by the Indian authorities in the hope to find incriminating evidence against Jagtar. This latest revelation suggests India has exerted considerable diplomatic pressure.
No arrests have been made, but West Midlands police have admitted they have shared intelligence gathered in Britain with the Indian police. Embarrassingly for West Midlands police the names, addresses and photographs of the five British Sikh activists have been leaked to the Indian media putting them and their families at risk.
Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary has yet to meet Jagtar Singh Johal’s family and his MP Martin Docherty-Hughes despite assurances given several months ago by his predecessor Boris Johnson in Parliament. We expect renewed pressure today when Jagtar’s case may be raised at Prime Ministers Questions and a concrete commitment given to meet Jagtar’s family and MP.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“The Home Office and West Midlands police have been totally compromised by the Indian authorities following statements by senior Indian police officers in the Indian press and the details of British nationals that have been published.”
“The West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU) issued a confidential 3-page internal briefing that we have seen on what it has called ‘Operation TECUMA’ that confirms the police raids on the homes of British Sikh activists were to assist the Indian authorities.”
“The confidential briefing gives senior police officers defensive lines to take when dealing with the Sikh community. Police officers have been told to deny the raids were ‘directed by either the UK or Indian Government’, not part of a “joint investigation” with the Indian authorities or a “pretext to gather evidence against” Jagtar Singh Johal.”