Jag­tar’s life is in jeop­ardy

Fam­ily fears of Dum­bar­ton man’s torture in In­dian jail

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Jenny Foulds

The brother of a Dum­bar­ton man who cam­paign­ers say has been tor­tured in an In­dian jail has told of the heart­break­ing ques­tions from his young sons ask­ing when their un­cle is com­ing home.

Gur­preet Singh Jo­hal and his fam­ily con­tinue to fight to bring Jag­tar Singh Jo­hal home more than two weeks af­ter he was ar­rested by po­lice.

For­mer Our Lady and St Pa­trick’s pupil Jag­tar was de­tained on Novem­ber 4, and re­mains in cus­tody with­out charge.

The 30-year-old Sikh trav­elled to Pun­jab with his fam­ily last month for his wed­ding and had been there for nearly five weeks when he re­port­edly had a sack thrown over his head and was bun­dled into a po­lice van.

The #FreeJag­giNow cam­paign has gone global with com­mu­ni­ties across the UK rais­ing con­cerns and gain­ing sup­port from lead­ing politi­cians and per­son­al­i­ties in the UK, Canada and op­po­si­tion politi­cians in Pun­jab.

And on Mon­day Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May broke her si­lence to say rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the For­eign Of­fice is watch­ing what is hap­pen­ing with con­cern and will “take ac­tion nec­es­sary.”

Speak­ing from the fam­ily home in Ox­hill Road, where Jag­tar’s fam­ily-of-eight stay, Gur­preet said: “I’ve felt helpess since the day it hap­pened but we are draw­ing strength from the many peo­ple and groups who have joined the cam­paign to bring him home.

“The lo­cal com­mu­nity have been re­ally nice to us, sent cards and given us their sup­port.

“My sons, my wife, my dad and my grand­par­ents have all been strug­gling.”

Gur­preet trav­elled to Le­ices­ter last week as part of his cam­paign to help free his brother, re­turn­ing home on Satur­day.

He added: “My two chil­dren love him to bits and when I came back on Satur­day they were ask­ing where he was.

“My youngest is four and he was wip­ing his eyes when I told him he hadn’t come home with me.

“They don’t know what’s go­ing on but they know some­thing se­ri­ous has hap­pened.

“My youngest has asked if we can all go to Frankie and Benny’s in Dum­bar­ton once Jag­tar gets home be­cause he loves it when we all go as a fam­ily. “So that will be our plan when he re­turns.” The UK-based Sikh Fed­er­a­tion claim rul­ing politi­cians and se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers in Pun­jab un­der pres­sure to ad­dress un­re­solved crimes have opted for “me­dia hype” to try and de­clare Jag­tar guilty by mak­ing “wild ac­cu­sa­tions” link­ing him to crimes with­out pro­duc­ing ev­i­dence that would stand up in court.

Gur­preet says he can’t un­der­stand how the In­dian au­thor­i­ties can still keep him in cus­tody af­ter al­most three weeks with­out charge.

He said: “The po­lice in Pun­jab are ac­cus­ing him of all these things but they keep ask­ing for more time to ques­tion him and there is still no charges. If he was part of this big con­spir­acy, why would Jag­tar go to In­dia? And where is the proof?”

As the Len­nox Her­ald went to press yes­ter­day (Tues­day) For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris Johnson was re­port­edly set to an­swer a num­ber of ques­tions over the im­pris­on­ment in the House of Com­mons.

Bhai Narinder­jit Singh, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Sikh Fed­er­a­tion said: “We have or­gan­ised a mass lobby in Par­lia­ment for Tues­day and con­stituents will be de­mand­ing an­swers from their MPs on ac­tions taken by the For­eign Of­fice.

“They will want to know how much pres­sure has been put on In­dia to as­sist in se­cur­ing the re­lease of the Bri­tish na­tional.

“Given the al­le­ga­tions of third de­gree torture that the For­eign Of­fice has stated it takes very se­ri­ously, MPs will also want to know what ef­forts have been made by the Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties to se­cure an in­de­pen­dent med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to con­firm the sever­ity of his torture.”

“Un­less Jag­tar is im­me­di­ately re­turned to the UK we will en­sure this be­comes a wa­ter­shed case that will call into ques­tion the en­tire re­la­tion­ship of Bri­tain with In­dia go­ing for­ward.”

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