March 16, 2019 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London/Chandigarh: As Jagtar Singh Johal remains confined in custody of Indian police after his arrest in November 2017, an international human rights group called REDRESS has noted that his claims about custodial torture during initial days of his custody still remains unaddressed.A written statement issued by REDRESS on March 15, 2019 reads as follows: –
500 days since Jagtar Singh Johal’s arrest, India still failing to investigate torture claims
REDRESS is calling once more on India to urgently investigate the serious allegations of torture in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, as Monday 18 March marks 500 days of his imprisonment in India.
REDRESS also urges India to respond to an appeal made by three United Nations experts in Mr Johal’s case more than a year ago, and to ensure that no evidence obtained by torture is used against Jagtar in his ongoing trial.
As far as REDRESS is aware, India has yet to respond to the urgent appeal and has not provided Mr Johal with an independent medical examination.
Plain-clothes police officers seized, hooded and abducted Mr Johal, a British national from Dumbarton, on 4 November 2017 while he was in India to get married. Mr Johal alleges that he was subsequently subjected to torture.
In a handwritten account detailing his treatment that his family made public last year, Mr Johal stated:
“The torture took place intermittently, numerous times each day. Electric shocks were administered by placing the crocodile clips on my ear lobes, nipples and private parts,” and that “threats of taking me to a remote location where I could be shot dead were also given. At one point, petrol was brought into the room and I was threatened with being burnt.”
Mr Johal remains in prison in India, where he is facing charges for offences under the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Arms Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in cases brought by the Punjab police and the Indian National Investigation Agency. As far as REDRESS is aware no evidence has been presented against Mr Johal in any of these cases.
“Time is running out to investigate the extremely serious torture allegations in Jagtar’s case. A swift and independent investigation is crucial for ensuring that anyone responsible for torturing Jagtar is brought to justice, and for making sure that any evidence obtained by torture is not used against Jagtar,” said Rupert Skilbeck, Director of REDRESS.
The widespread use of torture and ill-treatment in India during investigations or to extract confessions has long been reported by human rights groups. Amnesty International documented 894 deaths in judicial custody and 74 deaths in police custody during a period of just eight months in 2017. India is the only major democracy that has not ratified the UN Convention against Torture. REDRESS has long advocated for India to do so.