UK Government Helped India In Torturing Jaggi Johal

A lawyer who fought for justice for the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six has accused the British government of ignoring evidence that a Scottish terrorism suspect has been tortured in India.Gareth Peirce claims that the British authorities are secretly colluding with India’s counterterrorism agency in the investigation into Jagtar Singh Johal, a Scottish Sikh who is being held in connection with the murder of Hindu nationalists in 2016 and 2017.

Ms Peirce’s previous clients include Gerry Conlon, who spent 15 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the Guildford pub bombing. She is investigating how photographs of Sikh activists apparently seized by British police ended up in the hands of Indian interrogators.
Mr Johal, 31, from Dumbarton, was arrested, put in a hood and forced into an unmarked police vehicle in November 2017. He was held for six months without hearing the charges against him. Police broadcast a televised “confession” which Ms Peirce said was coerced and provably false.

Mr Johal claims that police tortured him and threatened to burn him alive.
Soon after Mr Johal’s arrest, Rory Stewart, the former international development minister, warned of “extreme action” against India if he were tortured during his detention. He remains in prison, however, more than a year later with no sign of a trial. Mr Johal’s lawyer claims that a consular official inspected his injuries but police and courts have refused a request for an independent medical examination.

Ms Peirce, 78, said: “Reports of a British citizen being taken hooded to court, the broadcast of a coerced, probably false ‘confession’ and marks of his injuries noted by a consular official should have generated exceptional and energetic activity by his own government.
“Do the clues to this inertia lie in the emerging evidence of close co-operation between the UK and the Indian authorities?
“In repeated cases and worldwide, it has been such covert collusion, belatedly acknowledged, that has accounted for the seeming impotence of official government expressions of concern.
“The urgent need is for Jagtar’s government to apply those lessons from this country’s recent past before it is too late.”

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, is under pressure from opponents to bring the Hindu nationalists’ killers to justice. Mr Johal fears that he is being used as a political pawn in the forthcoming general election.
Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, Mr Johal’s lawyer, said: “India’s National Investigation Agency is worried about the lack of evidence and to delay matters further has appealed to the Supreme Court to transfer many of the cases to Delhi. Apart from the inevitable delay this is causing they are also pushing for Jagtar to be transferred to a prison in Delhi making it difficult to regularly meet me, his wife and her family who are based hundreds of miles away in Punjab.”
Gurpreet Singh Johal, his elder brother, said: “The family was disgusted to hear from Jagtar’s lawyer that when Jagtar was being tortured by Indian police he was being shown photographs of Sikh activists from the UK and Canada that could only have come from intelligence agencies or police in the UK and Canada. His lawyer told us in the absence of evidence they have been pressuring Jagtar to become a false state witness against Sikh activists in the UK and Canada but he has refused as he has nothing he can tell them.”
A UK government spokesman said that it was unable to comment on ongoing police investigations.
“Our staff continue to support a British man and his family following his detention in Punjab,” the spokesman said. “We continue to visit him regularly, and raise concerns with the government of India about his case, including allegations of torture and mistreatment and his right to a fair trial.”
The family insisted that he was innocent of all allegations.
Source: The Times- Mark McLaughlin

Posted in: International