Jagtar’s life is in jeopardy
Family fears of Dumbarton man’s torture in Indian jail
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.”