Will try to raise Jo­hal is­sue with Modi: UK min­is­ter

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Punjab - Pra­sun Son­walkar (Ed­i­to­rial, Lon­don) pra­sun.son­walkar@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

LON­DON: The Theresa May gov­ern­ment on Tues­day said it will try to raise the is­sue of Bri­tish na­tional Jag­tar Singh Jo­hal – who is un­der ar­rest in Pun­jab since Novem­ber 2017 – with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi when he will visit Lon­don for the Com­mon­wealth heads of gov­ern­ment meet­ing in April.

Re­spond­ing to a de­bate in the West­min­ster Hall on the im­pris­on­ment of Bri­tish na­tional abroad, moved by Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, for­eign of­fice min­is­ter Mark Field said MPs were right in rais­ing con­cerns about hu­man rights in In­dia.

Gill and Labour MP Tan­man­jeet Singh Dh­esi al­leged that pri­vate con­sular ac­cess was not al­lowed to Jo­hal who, ac­cord­ing to them, had gone to In­dia to marry his fi­ancée in Oc­to­ber last, but had been al­legedly “ab­ducted” by the po­lice and tor­tured.

On de­nial of pri­vate con­sular ac­cess to Jo­hal, Field said: “It is a mat­ter of great frus­tra­tion, I have to say. We did re­quest it when Jo­hal was first de­tained. How­ever, he has since been moved to a max­i­mum se­cu­rity jail, where pri­vate vis­its are not per­mit­ted for se­cu­rity rea­sons”. Asked if Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May would raise the is­sue with Modi, Field said, “I will try to en­sure that that is done. These things of­ten have to be done on a pri­vate ba­sis rather than through mega­phone diplo­macy”.

He as­sured MPs that the for­eign of­fice was “ex­ert­ing to pro­vide the nec­es­sary as­sis­tance” to Jo­hal and his fam­ily in the UK, and noted that the Bri­tish high com­mis­sioner in In­dia, Do­minic Asquith, had raised the is­sue with In­dia’s for­eign sec­re­tary on March 7.

Since Jo­hal’s ar­rest, Field said con­sular staff had been meet­ing him on a fort­nightly ba­sis, and added that he had raised the is­sue with min­is­ter of the state for home Kiren Ri­jiju dur­ing his visit here on Jan­uary 11.

Field con­cluded his re­sponse by say­ing that In­dia has a strong demo­cratic frame­work which is de­signed to guar­an­tee hu­man rights: “How­ever, it also faces nu­mer­ous chal­lenges when it comes to en­forc­ing fun­da­men­tal rights en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

“Mem­bers are ab­so­lutely right to raise con­cerns about hu­man rights in In­dia, and be­cause we share these real con­cerns, the UK gov­ern­ment is work­ing along­side the In­dian gov­ern­ment to build ca­pac­ity and to share ex­per­tise in pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights,” he added.

■ Jag­tar Singh Jo­hal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.