The Story of Jagtar Singh Johal
Last week marked the 100-day-anniversary since Jagtar Singh Johal, a 30-year old British citizen residing in West Dumbarton, Scotland, was arrested by Punjab Police.
What follows is a detailed timeline showing how events have unfolded, from Jagtar’s arrest to the present day. This has been compiled using archive reports from the Sikh Press Association, who have covered this story from the outset.
Jagtar arrives in India for his wedding, to take place on October 18th.
Jagtar, also known as “Juggy”, is arrested in Jalandhar district by Punjab police. He was out shopping with his wife and cousin when the arrest took place.
In a press release submitted shortly after the arrest, Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) described how Jagtar “was accosted, a sack thrown over his head, and he was forced into a van by men dressed in plain clothes”. It was only after two days of having been arrested that Jagtar’s family became aware of the arrest, and only then after Jagtar appeared in court and put on remand.
Aside from the nature of the arrest itself, the surrounding circumstances also appear to be suspicious. Jagtar’s brother, Gurpreet Singh Gill, describes how his brother has not even been named on the warrant or charge sheet. Meanwhile, Indian media report that Jagtar was one of four being held in connection with killings in Punjab. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder, goes further, claiming that eight murders have been solved upon the detention of Jagtar and three others. These bold claims come despite no official charge being given, let alone a trial.
In the days that follow, members of the British Sikh community urge the British government to intervene.
Chairman of the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK), Amrik Singh: “Punjab police are notorious for their brutality and use of torture during interrogation to extract information or obtain false confessions. Given some of the media reports we are disturbed by the lack of urgency and action taken by the British High Commission in both Delhi, the mission in Chandigarh and the Foreign Office in London. They have failed to make contact with senior police officers to ensure the safety and well-being of this young British man.”
Chairman of Sikh Relief and former Sikh political prisoner, Balbir Singh Bains: “I was deeply saddened to hear about the arrest of Jagtar Singh. I am deeply concerned for Jagtar’s safety and when hearing from his family, about the manner in which he was detained, it was almost identical to how I was arrested in 1999 during a routine family visit to India. I know all too well the complexities and failings of the Indian legal system having established SOPW after my own illegal arrest and false imprisonment many years ago”.
Sikh Federation UK sources learn that Jagtar Singh was placed on extended remand at a court appearance in Baghapurana, Moga. Neither Jagtar, nor any legal representative, had been present to object to this extension.
Almost a week since the arrest, no charge sheet has yet been issued to clarify why Jagtar Singh has been arrested.
Investigative journalists from Sikh Siyasat discovered that Punjab police had left out the FIR (First Incident Report) sheet for the arrest of Jagtar Singh from their official online database.
MP Tamanjeet Singh Desi of Slough writes to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about Jagtar Singh’s case.
A week after his arrest, Jagtar makes his third court appearance, appearing surrounded by armed police and with his face covered. His defence advocate Jagtar Singh, the only person who had spoken to him directly since he had been detained, told media outside the court that Jagtar had been ‘physically and mentally tortured’. He further described: “His legs were forcibly stretched to the point of tearing, and he has been electrocuted on his nipples, ears and penis”.
Referring to his appearance, Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation commented: “The face covering is a tactic to hide that Jagtar Singh has been gagged, so he can’t speak out to the cameras recording. This is common treatment for people being detained by Punjab police”.
Dumbarton MP Martin Docherty-Hughes asks for a ministerial statement on his constituent Jagtar Singh Johal’s detention and torture in Punjab; the Speaker says this ‘could happen’, but warns of the feasibility of this approach for every troubled Briton overseas.
In India, a reputable journalist covering stories in Punjab casts doubt over Jagtar’s alleged involvement in the crimes being alleged by Punjab police. In a detailed comment posted on his Facebook wall, Kanwar Sandhu said: “I don’t know Jaggi Johal or his family personally, but on the face of it and having covered Punjab as a journalist for the past 35 years, I don’t find it convincing that a person from the UK who comes here to get married would be involved in such matters here”. Read the full story here.
Around 400 Sikhs from across the UK, and some coming from as far as Cyprus, gather outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London to protest. What results is an impromptu meeting between campaigners and FCO representatives.
A meeting then takes place between campaign and FCO representatives. An unknown source quotes that, during this meeting, the FCO acknowledged that they were not fulfilling their role; in addition, points raised include the reports of torture (firsthand from Jagtar’s lawyer) and continued risk to Jagtar’s life, and the need for FCO representation at Jagtar’s court hearing the next day. The FCO confirms that no charge has been registered with them by Indian authorities. The FCO gives reassurance that a supervisor and their human rights lawyer will remain in direct with the #FreeJaggiNow campaign. Read the full quote here.
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign gathers pace on social media, with celebrities like rapper and activist Akala, best-selling poet Rupi Kaur and Bhangra artist Jazzy B.
Just hours after the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) stated a decision to move Jagtar Singh out of police custody would ‘hopefully’ end his torture, reports from India claim the 30 year old has now been moved back into police custody. The original decision was made in Bagha Purana court before British High Commission representatives and — if implemented — would have seen Jagtar enter judicial custody, deemed safer and with less risk of torture. The reversal of this decision is deemed an underhanded move by the Punjab police.
It is later revealed that, immediately following the court hearing, Ludhiana police take Jagtar to the residences of two different judges, in order to place him back in their custody, using an FIR which does not name him (see below).
To justify going against the court decision and keeping Jagtar Singh in police custody, Ludhiana police report that a First Incident Report (FIR) linked to the murder of a Christian pastor in July 2017 involves the Scotsman. This FIR does not contain Jagtar’s name. Jasjit Singh Dhanoa, an American Sikh working for humanitarian charity Ensaaf, questions these new charges in a tweet.
In a Facebook post, journalist Sunny Hundal calls on his “Hindu friends” to speak out against injustice of Sikhs in India, or otherwise be ‘contributing towards a fractured India’.
Sikh Sayasat News reveal, through sources in Punjab, Jagtar Singh’s appearance before a magistrate’s court that day in Ludhiana, Punjab, where his stay in police custody is extended by a judge for a further five days. Jagtar is next schedule to appear in court on November 30th.
Prime Minister Theresa May states that FCO representatives have met with Jagtar Singh, are pursuing the case and “watching what is happening with concern”. Listen to the 30-second BBC Asian Network report here.
An SFUK press release states that Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is “expected to get a rough ride” as he answers questions in the House of Commons, with over 200 MPs having been pressed by constituents to pass on concern about Jagtar’s case.
Following a statement by Punjab police on allegations of Jagtar’s torture, Jaspal Singh — Jagtar’s lawyer — questions the police’s denial of a request for an independent medical examination on Jagtar. He also calls suggestions made by the Punjab police about Jagtar’s alleged involvement in terrorism as “mere allegations”. Read the full story here.
Following the Prime Minister’s remark yesterday, dozens of Sikhs descend on Parliament to lobby their MP’s over Jagtar Singh’s plight.
During Parliamentary ‘Question Time’, Jagtar’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes asks the Foreign Secretary about what discussions he has had with India over their human rights record in the state of the Punjab, critically in relation to Jagtar Singh’s situation. Watch the exchange here.
Following ‘Question Time’, Mr. Docherty MP hosts a meeting in Parliament with Preet Gill MP, Tan Dhesi MP, Gurpreet Singh (Jagtar Singh’s brother) and representatives from various Sikh organisations. At the meeting, Mr. Docherty says that he will be meeting next week with Mark Field, the Foreign Office minister with responsibility for India, to discuss Jagtar’s case.
It has been 17 days since Jagtar was arrested, all without an official charge or any legal documents naming him in relation to a criminal case.
Members of the Sikh community in Melbourne, Australia protest outside the Indian consulate. So far, Sikhs have protested in countries afar as India, Australia, Canada, USA, Italy, Malaysia and further, in the name of Jagtar Singh’s treatment.
A video shared on Twitter by Kesri Lehar of Scotland depicsts Indian police torture in action. A previous Sikh Organisation of Prisoner Welfare (SOPW) report also surfaces, detailing a 2006 case where a British Sikh national was held for months and tortured, before the case went to trial and was dismissed for a lack of evidence.
Gurpreet Singh, the brother of Jagtar Singh, addresses MPs and community figures at the annual Sikh Network Guru Nanak Gurpurab (Guru’s celebration) in Parliament.
Yogesh Batish, leader of far-right Indian nationalist group Shiv Sena, allegedly offers a reward for “chopping the nose” of Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi party. The threat comes after Mann suggested the Punjab Police would use devious tactics and torture to extract confessions of detainees, in reference to the Jagtar Singh case. Read the full story here.
In response to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder’s claiming that reports of torture are “baseless”, Jaspal Singh — lawyer of Jagtar Singh — states: “The way Punjab Police rejected our application for an independent medical shows they have something to hide”. Read the full story here.
Preet Kaur Gill MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs, joins Martin Docherty-Hughes MP in writing directly to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder regarding the case. The letter asks for “a fair, transparent and open process”.
It is revealed that a British High Commission official was blocked from seeing Jagtar Singh Johal the previous night.
Jagtar is given a further four days of remand in police custody, with still no official charge levelled against him. Three members of the British High Commission are in attendance. Jaspal Singh, Jagtar’s lawyer, reports that, when asked if he wanted to address the court, Jagtar Singh pleaded his innocence, stating he was unrelated to any of the crimes he is being linked with. As they have done so for the duration of his arrest, Ludhiana take Jagtar to an unknown location following the hearing.
- It emerges a British High Commission representatives were refused a private meeting with Jagtar Singh on November 24th, despite a Punjab magistrate court judge’s order. Instead, Punjab police arrange a meeting between Jagtar Singh and the consular staff which takes place in their presence, on the morning of November 25th. British representatives of the High Commission have thus far been unable to ensure an independent medical, or a private meeting for Jagtar Singh.
- Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is briefed on the case by the Sikh Federation UK. Mr. Corbyn promises to discuss the matter with MP Preet Kaur Gill, and to try to meet with Jagtar’s family and campaigners. Read the full story here.
- During a meeting between Sikh organisations in Birmingham, UK, Shamsher Singh of the National Sikh Youth Federation (NYSF) reveals news of Jagtar Singh being “forced into signing 10–15 blank pieces of paper by Police during torture”, relayed to him by Jagtar’s lawyer. Shamsher Singh goes on to say: “This is a known tactic of the Punjab Police, they make you sign blank pieces of paper so they can present your confession on there. “The torture, the extra-judicial killings that were inflicted on us by the Punjab police..this case has opened old wounds and this is why we see this global coming together.”
- Sikh Sayasat records an exclusive interview with Jagtar’s lawyer, Jaspal Singh, during which the latter describes Jagtar’s mental and physical torture.
Sikh PA reports that Punjab police refused an Indian court order and British High Commission request for Jagtar Singh to meet with consular staff in privacy; this followed a Foreign Office request for an independent medical examination with an Indian court claiming the British Sikh has already been examined — by the same police accused of his torture.
A judicial court in Ludhiana extends Jagtar’s Singh stay in police custody by another two days. Still no official charge for Jagtar’s detainment has been made, despite 7 court appearances in 25 days. His lawyer Jaspal Singh declares that judges are acting as “postmen”, by simply delivering police messages and not “looking to apply their mind”. For the hearing, Jagtar Singh is taken into court with his face covered, which many believe to be a sign that he is being physically gagged. Read more details from the hearing here.
In response to a question raised by Lord Singh of Wimbledon about Jagtar’s case, Lord Ahmed, the Foreign and Commonwealth Minister of State and Minister of Human Rights said that the British High Commission “will continue to raise this case with the authorities”.
- A judicial magistrate court in Ludhiana grants the Punjab police’s request for a two-day extension to Jagtar’s stay in custody, on account of locating Jagtar’s passport. Originally raiding the Punjab family home for the passport on November 4th, his family felt it safer to hand it to the British High Commission; they did so on November 8th, and this was announced in a Bagha Purana court on November 14th. In other words, Punjab Police had been aware of the passport’s whereabouts for 16 days. The court’s judge granted an extension, the 8th in total, without hearing lawyer Jaspal Singh’s response to the request.
- Still no FIR, no private meeting with consular staff, and no private medical examination for Jagtar Singh.
- It is reported that Jagtar Singh’s grandmother, who he was staying with in India, passed away two days earlier. The family believe the stress caused by the ongoing case was a significant factor leading to her death.
Gurpreet Singh (Jagtar’s brother): “She lived in fear during this time. Her home was originally raided by police in their search for the British passports of our family. We don’t know what they were after during the subsequent raids. They smashed the locks on the doors too and the whole family felt constantly intimidated”.
Note: Jagtar Singh’s grandmother is actually his father’s mother’s sister. It is common in Punjabi cultures for someone senior in the family to be referred to in this manner.
In a second letter to the Foreign Secretary, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry asks Boris Johnson “what progress” has been made on the case, in which she expresses “concern” regarding Indian authorities’ rejecting British High Commission requests, and asks Mr. Johnson to respond “as soon as possible”. Read the letter here.
- Led by SFUK, phase 2 of #FreeJaggiNow campaign begins, with the aim to have supporters across UK constituencies contact 200 MPs and address their concerns re: Jagtar’s case.
- Jagtar’s 8th court appearance in 28 days sees Punjab Police request yet another custodial extension, this time for five extra days. After the request is denied, the police request an extension for a different FIR, again without Jagtar’s name on the document, this time linking him with firing on an RSS building in the Indian city of Kidwai Nagar in 2016. At the time of this alleged incident, Jagtar was not in the country. The judge grants an extension in policy custody for this new FIR; for previous FIRs linked with him, he will now be kept in judicial custody, where he is deemed safer from torture and more likely to secure a private meeting with British High Commission staff. Read the full Sikh Siyasat story.
An SFUK statement says that the UK Government are under “intense pressure” to take action against the Indian state regarding the torture of Jagtar Singh. This follows FCO representative Roy Stewart previously stating (November 15th) that “extreme action” would be taken by UK authorities on the situation. 30 days into Jagtar’s detention, there has still been no comment from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Having been filed on November 17th, a BHC request for Jagtar Singh to have an independent medical is looked at — and denied in court. The rejecting judge believed a medical had been conducted in private by Punjab Police, the same group who he says tortured him.
The judge sets a hearing for the petition of the independent medical in March 2018, meaning reports of torture will go uninvestigated for a further five months; campaigners and human rights’ groups are shocked, and the Indian state’s intention to stamp out the ill-treatment of detainees is undermined.
In his 11th court appearance, Punjab Police request a further seven-day extension for Jagtar in custody; this is denied, and they are granted just one extra day. Still no official charge lodged against Jagtar Singh Johal after 31 days in Police detention.
Lawyer Jaspal Singh: “The actions of the Indian authorities shows they have something to hide”.
- Canadian MP Raj Grewal of Brampton East addresses concerns of his constituents by pushing for the Canadian UK High Commission to chase up “legal representation and consular services” for Jagtar Singh. Several other Canadian MPs, including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, have also called for the Indian authorities to be transparent and swift in validating why Jagtar has been arrested.
- An Amnesty International report on “deadliest countries to be a human rights defender” references the work of Ensaaf, highlighting the case of Jaswant Singh Khalra, a renowned Sikh activist who spoke about the Punjab Police’s mass killing of Sikhs, before being abducted and murdered by six Punjab Police officers in 1995.
- #FreeJaggiNow campaigners are dismayed that London Mayor Sadiq Khan, in a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder, does not bring up the case of Jagtar Singh.
Jasveer Singh, Sikh Press Association: “It would have been more pertinent for Sadiq Khan to raise this issue, especially since he met Captain Amarinder, Punjab Chief Minister, who was quick to say Jagtar Singh’s arrest saw murders solved, without a charge or trial levelled. If Khan wanted to show real intention to work to resolve issues between India and the UK, this current one involving Jagtar Singh’s detainment without charge and torture should have been on the top of his list”.
- Jagtar Singh appears in court for the 13th time in 32 days; a Ludhiana judge does not grant extension to his stay on remand in custody, leading Punjab Police to arrest him on another new charge, to ensure he remains in their custody. The details of this charge are unclear, with still no evidence produced of Jagtar’s involvement in any crime.
Labour MP Jim McDonnell tables an Early Day Motion (EDM) requesting the case of Jagtar Singh to be debated in Parliament; Labour MPs Tamanjeet Dhesi and John Spellar share that they have submitted separate written requests to have Foreign & Commonwealth Office address the case directly.
A British Sikh speaks out after India Today, a major Indian TV outlet, labels him a “terrorist” based on an innocuous picture. During a segment given in relation to Jagtar Singh’s case and presented by Gaurav Sawant, images of Sikhs were shown with an alleged ‘Pakistan ISI Officer’ (note: Pakistan ISI is Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency). The images accompanying the story were unexplained, with no context given to the pictures nor the individuals shown. Sikh PA revealed that one of the Sikhs pictured was Midlands-based Bobby Singh, who commented:
“The accusations I am a terrorist or linked with Pakistan ISI are a load of nonsense. India Today haven’t even tried to name us in the news segment and have not explained why we were there. They should be checking sources but that kind of media coverage is what organisations like India Today can get away with in India. Unfortunately, people believe it.
I was there in 2012 during Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurab (Guru’s celebration — for Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday) to visit Nankana Sahib (Sikh historic Gurdwara in the town Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born). There, due to my open interest in Sikh history, we went to meet the head of the Dyal Singh Majetia Trust, a history organization named after the famed Sikh activist and founder of the Punjab National Bank. This happened to be Ihsan H Nadiem. In the image shared he is presenting us with a set of books on Sikh-Pakistani history, and that’s all. This is the only time I have met him.
I would like to find out who they got the pictures from. It’s been terrible to see me linked with terrorism based on a picture taken five years ago. I have had family members straight away saying to me ‘don’t go to India’. Even my wife and children don’t want to go now. Before all this we thought we have a British passport, we are safe, but now with this Jagtar Singh case, we don’t feel that way anymore.
Seeing what they have done here has only added to my belief that everything against Jagtar Singh is fabricated and he is being demonised for nothing, just as I have been by Indian media”.
- Jaspal Singh, lawyer to Jagtar Singh, speaks out on the India Today coverage on his client, claiming it was “character assassination by the media, investigation agencies and the government”. In a six-minute video, the lawyer highlights several examples of mistakes and manipulation by Indian today, including:
- Showing pictures of seemingly random UK Sikhs in Pakistan and claiming they met with ISI officers; this was, in fact, a meeting of historians regarding Sikh history in Pakistan
- Claiming Jagtar Singh had been to Dubai for terror training, when he has never been to the country
- Stating Jagtar Singh had confessed to being involved in terror plots, whilst only showing clips of him merely detailing or translating articles and speeches from English to Punjabi.
The Indian Today presenter at the centre of the controversy, Gaurav Sawant, himself admitted that the so-called confession was “inadmissible in court”.
Jaspal Singh: “what they (the media and investigation-related agencies) are doing is against the rule of law…even Indian law”.
- A press release by the Sikh Federation UK claimed that “Britain appears powerless” to stop the abuses of Jagtar Singh’s human rights.
- Sikh activist group Dal Khalsa slams Indian authorities, questioning why they were denying human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, the ability to fully examine the issues in Punjab. Read the full story here.
- Aam Aadmi Party’s Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi challenges Indian authorities to prove their Pakistani ISI allegations being referenced in their allegations involving Jagtar Singh. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder had previously claimed Jagtar’s arrest saw eight murders solved, in relation to a link with ISI and a plan to destabilise Punjab.
Gandhi: “I don’t say that ISI or Pakistan cannot be involved in this game. But if there is a reality in this claim, the government should prove it”.
In his 14th court appearance, Jagtar Singh is referred to judicial custody, only to immediately be re-arrested and placed back in police custody. The latest arrest comes from Khanna police and relates to a murder of a Hindu leader. Yet again, no official change is put forward nor is Jagtar named on the FIR.
A letter sent to MP Preet Kaur Gill and other MPs from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office claims that Jagtar Singh is ‘fine’, despite reports of his torture, and with no private meeting nor medical examination have been carried out. The surprising statement comes from FCO spokesman Mark Field.
The Sikh Federation UK states #FreeJaggiNow campaigners are “questioning the effectiveness” of the Foreign Office, three weeks after an official claimed there would be ‘extreme action’ in relation to Jagtar Singh’s claims of torture. In the same press release, Gill calls for the release of the “Chennai six”.
- The Sikh Federation UK accuses the Foreign Office of ‘dumbing down’ responses to questions in the case of Jagtar Singh, suggesting that they are are ‘more concerned about trade relations with India than the illegal detention and torture of an innocent British citizen’. Read the full statement here.
- Jagtar Singh is prevented with meeting his lawyer, after the NIA (National Investigation Agency) takes control of the case.
- Indian news outlet News18 claims to have more information from a ‘confession’ by Jagtar Singh, which — like the India Today piece — is highly flawed and fabricated.
Jasveer Singh, Sikh Press Association: “It is actually incredible that the Indian media can put such things out and still be viewed as in any way credible. Imagine a UK media outlet putting a video out of someone saying something, yet reporting he had said something else completely. They would rightfully be ridiculed and dismissed as a credible source. This is how all should also view these media organisations — India Today and News18 — in their coverage of the Jagtar Singh case.
We will continue to reach out to both to see if they would like to work with us so we can push for some accurate and fair coverage. Thus far, Jagtar Singh is facing trial by media and they have already damned him as a terrorist. We hope UK authorities intervene as soon as they can, because even without charge or trial, the Indian media are portraying Jagtar Singh as guilty”.
Jaspal Singh, lawyer of Jagtar Singh, highlights the many flaws and and legal discrepancies of the so-called ‘confessions’ of Jagtar Singh. His key points include:
- That confessions in police custody are not admissible in court
- There exists a well-documented history of abuse by Punjab Police, undermining the credibility of confessions obtained during interrogation
- No recovery of evidence has been made or presented to courts as a result of interrogation
- The leaking of “exclusive” footage to the media raises serious concerns about the motivations of investigating agencies and police
- No information in the videos substantiates the allegations being made
Section 25 Indian Evidence Act 1872:
No confession made to a police-officer, shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence.
- In his 15th court appearance, Jagtar is given a two-day extension in police custody remand; Khanna police had originally requested a ten-day extension, which the judge rejected.
- News emerges stating that Jagtar Singh is being kept isolated and in handcuffs for 24 hours a day. Friends and family also feel that he looks ‘distressed’ when appearing in court, in contradiction to the earlier claim made by the Foreign Office that he was ‘fine’.
MPs Preet Kaur Gill and Martin Docherty-Hughes are critical in their response to Mark Fields’ previous claim that Jagtar is ‘fine’. Sikh Federation UK describe the comments ‘reckless’ and call for his resignation. Read the full statement here.
In his 16th court appearance in 44 days, Jagtar Singh is given a further two-day extension to his remand in police custody, with still no charge.
The human rights organisation REDRESS files an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal. Read the full statement from REDRESS on the issue, here.
- In his 17th court appearance, Jagtar’s remand is extended by a further three days. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had requested a twelve-day extension, which was rejected but, crucially, Jagtar Singh is transferred into the custody of the NIA.
- BBC journalist Arvind Chhabra claims that he spoke to Balwinder Singh, Jagtar’s father-in-law, who said that Jagtar Singh told him he was fin — but adding that his son-in-law’s response was expected, given that he had been surrounded by NIA agents.
A month since the British High Commission made the request, an application for an independent medical for Jagtar Singh is accepted by Indian courts, with a hearing set for December 26th. India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), who recently took over the case from Punjab Police, will facilitate the medical.
In a media appearance, Jaspal Singh (Jagtar’s lawyer) expresses that the NIA are using the same tactics as the Punjab Police in extending Jagtar’s police remand; this is despite the claim that they would be producing more sophisticated evidence-gathering techniques, with still no evidence yet presented in court. He adds that Jagtar needs an appropriate medical institution for an examination by independent and senior doctors, including a psychologist and psychiatrist, and a cursory medical in a police van would not suffice. He also makes an application to the NIA special court, under sections 54/55A, reminding it that the NIA has a responsibility for the health of safety of Jagtar Singh.
Jagtar Singh enters court for the 19th time. The vocational judge overseeing the hearing does not have Jagtar Singh’s case file and is unable to hold the NIA accountable for ignoring court orders and their failure to provide a reply to medical concerns, namely the allegations of torture from Jagtar’s legal team. Jaspal Singh Manjhpur (Jagtar’s lawyer) highlights the willing of the judiciary to accommodate NIA requests, such as moving the planned NIA hearing that day to the 2nd January, as the NIA was due to have a second hearing and having two on the same day would be inconvenient for them.
Advocate Barjinder Singh Sodhi joins Jagtar’s legal team, and both him and Jaspal Singh observe that the prolonged period of police remand have severely affected Jagtar Singh’s psychological wellbeing, advocating his need to be assessed by senior medical doctors and psychiatrists in order to determine his physical and mental states.
Jaspal Singh makes a direct appeal to the British Government, urging them to raise with their Indian counterpart the fact that a British citizen is being subjected to such conditions as previously outlined, and not being treated fairly.
The NIA raids homes of Jagtar Singh’s family, including his family home and his mother- and father-in-law’s home. Jagtar Singh’s wife, in hiding since November 5th, is also questioned by the NIA and goes back into hiding after answering their questions. Documents alleged taken by the NIA do not relate at all to Jagtar Singh.
Jagtar Singh’s brother Gurpreet Singh provides an update on his brother’s condition, reiterating that no charges have been brought against him. He adds that it now appears that Indian authorities are trying to force a confession out of Jagtar Singh (due to a lack of material found during their house raise on December 27th), and urges people to contact their MPs and prompt them to sign Early Day Motion 661, which has only 61 signatures at this point.
Jagtar Singh is transferred to judicial custody at Nabha Maximum Security Jail in Punjab, at his 20th court appearance and after 59 days in police custody. Whilst the hope is that this transfer will reduce the risk of torture and increase the chances of a private consular meeting, he has still received no charge nor medical examination. Preet Kaur Gill MP, reiterated that she, along with Jagtar Singh’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes, will be requesting a private meeting between Jagtar Singh and British consular officials.
Jagtar Singh meets with his wife for the first time in two months, since being put in detention. He tells her that he is currently being treated well, but that during the first ten days of his illegal detention (in an undisclosed location) he was severely tortured.
- The #FreeJaggiNow campaign has welcomed calls for a worldwide ban on Indian government officials from Gurdwaras (Sikh temples, or ‘Gurdwareh’) by Sikh Federation UK:
“We welcome the call for a worldwide ban on Indian government officials visiting Gurdwareh in their official capacity by the Sikh Federation U.K. For far too long Indian government officials have interfered, attempted to undermine and intimidate Sikh communities by manipulating community sentiments through unscrupulous links with individual Gurdwara committee members”.
This call seeks to formalise bans that have existed in Gurdwareh all over the world since the covert declaration of war by the Indian government against the Sikh nation in June 1984. The Indian military launched a full scale military invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar, with attacks on Gurdwareh all over India to suppress rising Sikh agitations and a movement for greater autonomy for Sikhs within their indigenous homeland of Punjab.
- Jagtar Singh is handed a letter by consular staff, written by the #FreeJaggiNow campaign team, apprising him of the global campaign taking place in his name.
Martin Docherty-Hughes, Jagtar Singh’s MP, asks the Foreign Office Minister in Parliament whether the case of Jagtar Singh’s detention represented a ‘Faustian pact’ between Britain and India “in which we sacrifice our defence of due process to arbitrary detention on the altar of free-marketeer-ism?”
Foreign Office Minister, Mark Field, replied that he did not think that “that is the case at all”, praising Docherty for his steadfast approach to Jagtar Singh’s detention. Field confirms that British consular staff visited Jagtar Singh in custody on 28th December and are scheduled to do so again on 11th January.
The UK India High Commission is left embarrassed after its Deputy High Commissioner, Dinesh Patnaik, was exposed for inaccurate and misleading statements made about the case of Jagtar Singh. The statements were made during a BBC Asian Network radio interview, with presenter Nomia Iqbal questioning Mr. Patnaik about the case. Sikh PA provide a breakdown of the interview statement-by-statement, highlighting the inaccuracies here.
An FCO statement confirms that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recognises Jagtar Singh’s reports of torture by Punjab Police, and the issue was brought up during a recent meeting with India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs. An FCO update read: “Staff were able to discuss torture and mistreatment allegations… Jagtar said that he was physically mistreated during the period 4–7 November, when he was first detained”.
The statement goes on to say: “The same statement went on to say, ‘On 15 December a Note Verbale was submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs, raising the allegations, and requesting that a prompt, independent and impartial investigation be undertaken into the allegations. It also expressed our concerns that Jagtar was being kept in handcuffs for 24 hours a day, and is being kept in isolation”.
Gurpreet Singh, Jagtar Singh’s brother, remains frustrated about the lack of urgency shown in response to these revelations, echoing the concern of his family’s local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes in highlighting an underlying belief that Britain’s trade relationship with India could be the reason why Jagtar Singh is not getting the support needed and expected from his government:
“Despite Jagtar being declared vulnerable on 16th November 2017, the FCO have failed to investigate the allegations of torture. The FCO have bought time to delay matters. I am seriously concerned that the British Government are more worried about a relationship with India than providing its citizen his basic human rights. Any trial Jagtar may face has been prejudiced due to the case becoming a trial by media. I have no faith in the system”.
Jagtar Singh is put back into police custody until January 22nd. Jagtar was taken from Nabha jail by NIA officers and presented before a duty magistrate in Mohali without legal representation. According to the #FreeJaggiNow team: “Jagtar Singh’s lawyer was deliberately not informed of this abrupt and unscheduled court appearance”.
The Facebook statement goes on to say: “In a clear sign of bias/incompetence the duty judge did not even ask why Jaggi has been presented in court without legal representation”.
Read the full news report here.
It emergers that Jagtar’s family needed to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to find out where he was being held after the NIA had taken him to an undisclosed location, following his latest court order to place him back in police custody.
After questioning from the FCO, the NIA reveals to them that Jagtar is being held in an NIA facility in Mohali. His family are then informed. Having been placed back into police custody remand for five days, Jagtar Singh is released early and returns to Nabha jail; it appears the FCO’s line of questioning may have prompted the NIA’S early release.
A court appearance scheduled for Jagtar Singh on January 22nd is cancelled, after the NIA place him back in jail and out of police custody earlier than necessary.
It emerges that a 55-year-old Khanna resident, referred to as Rampal, committed suicide by jumping off a bridge after persistent pressure from the NIA to be a witness in a murder case. The man’s family have been open in stating to Indian media that his death was caused by the NIA’s forcing him to act as a witness to a murder that he did not witness. The story causes concern for Jagtar’s family.
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign releases a statement on recent BBC coverage on the Jagtar Singh story, suggesting the news outlet has a ‘soft stance’ when it comes to being critical of the Indian state’s breaches of human rights. Read the full statement here.
- Only weeks after UK Labour MP Virendra Sharma and Indian High Commission Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik claim Jagtar Singh’s family and UK authorities have always had access to him, the Scottish Sikh’s whereabouts is unknown — again — for the second time in just 12 days.
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign page, which sources information directly from Jagtar Singh’s family and legal team, reveals: “Jaggi has been taken away from Nabha Jail by the NIA once again without informing his legal team”.
- There has still been no word from Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, despite the Scotsman’s detention without charge and reports of torture since November 4th.
- Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says it is ‘important’ Britain’s Foreign Office are ‘on the front foot’ to ensure the wellbeing of Jagtar Singh. Speaking at the parliamentary launch of the Sikh War Memorial Campaign, Mayor Khan comments:
“The Scottish government are making representations to the Foreign Office in relation to that (Jagtar Singh’s case). As the Mayor of London my responsibilities are to make sure we have the greatest city in the world. If it is the case that members of the Sikh community are concerned about this Scottish British Sikh it is very important our Foreign Office make representations to the Indian government”.
The Mayor also indirectly addresses Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson:
“I would hope our Foreign Secretary would take on board the concerns raised, particularly concerns raised around abuse, that he has allegedly suffered in custody. It is really important our Foreign Office is on the front foot on these issues, he is a British citizen so we should make sure representations are made to the Indian government.”
- It emerges that human rights group Redress are looking at the UK government’s role in protecting the rights of UK nationals who have faced serious human rights violations abroad. Citing the #FreeJaggiNow campaign in their report, which is set to ‘push for changes to the UK law so there is a right to consular assistance and an obligation for the UK government to exercise diplomatic protection where UK nationals are at risk’. See more information on the report here.
- His 24th court hearing, in 89 days of detainment by Indian authorities without charge, sees Jagtar Singh remain in judicial custody. #FreeJaggiNow campaigners remain frustrated that no progress has been made on the case, with no charge, no independent medical and no private meeting with Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials thus far, despite repeated requests by the UK authorities.
- Jagtar’s brother, Gurpreet Singh, meets with Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Mark Field. The meeting is hosted by human rights organisation REDRESS, based around their report ‘Beyond Discretion The Protection of British Nationals Aboard From Torture and Ill- Treatment’, which features insights into the cases of Andy Tsege, Nazanin Ratcliffe, and Jagtar Singh.
Jagtar Singh has now reached 90 days in detainment at the hands of Indian authorities, which UK High Commission of India Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Patnaik recently claimed authorities ‘cannot cross’. In a BBC Asian Network interview on January 8th, Mr. Patnaik said: “Each case takes ninety days for investigation. That is the amount under the law that is… the investigating agencies are allowed. They cannot cross the ninety-day barrier”.
Less than a week after Jagtar Singh’s stay in detainment with Indian authorities reaches 90 days, the NIA have applies for a 90-day extension on his stay in remand. This is despite UK High Commission of Indian DC Dinesh Patnaik’s claims that an investigation agency cannot cross ‘the ninety-day barrier’ (see above). Read more here.
On Jagtar Singh’s 31st birthday, supporters of the #FreeJaggiNow campaign flood social media with messages of support.
A #FreeJaggiNow campaign statement suggests that the NIA’s push to have Jagtar Singh’s stay in remand with them extended by 90 days indicates that ‘there is no evidence’ against him, and that Punjab Chief Minister previously ‘lied’. Captain Amarinder had previously stated, at a press conference in the days following Jagtar’s arrest on November 10th, that the Punjab Police already had evidence linking him to criminal cases, or ‘eight murders’ to be exact.
Thus far, still no charge has been placed against Jagtar Singh.
A media press conference is held to mark 100 days since the arrest and subsequent detention of Jagtar Singh Johal. His brother, Gurpreet Singh, is joined by local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes and Josie Fathers from REDRESS, a charity that seeks justice for torture victims. His brother had a simple message for the Indian government: “If Jagtar has done anything, charge him… if he’s not done anything, release him”.
Incredibly, a judge grants an extension of 90 days to Jagtar Singh’s remand, meaning that he can now be held for 180 days before being charged. This is despite the failure of any state agency to produce any evidence against him, despite Captain Amarinder’s remarks in the days following the arrest.
It emerges that three new legal applications for a 90-day extension were also submitted by the NIA, most likely with the intention of frustrating the legal process and creating delay. The NIA show reluctance to provide a copy of the extension requests to Jagtar Singh’s lawyer — another instance of disregard for due process. Read more about this story here.
It emerges that, on 12th February, India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) submitted a written application to transfer Jagtar Singh and nine other individuals from Punjab to Tihar jail in Delhi. This application is discussed in court today, after which Jagtar Singh’s lawyer, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, gives an interview to Sikh Siyasat News to comment on the day’s proceedings.
The NIA argument for the transfer to Delhi falls under Article 21 of Indian Constitution, that Jagtar Singh and others detained be transferred for their own safety and liberty. Of this, Manjhpur comments: “We replied that we are not insecure about any jail in Punjab, whereas we would be insecure about a jail outside of Punjab”.
Manjhpur goes on to say: “The NIA have wrapped poison in sugar. They speak about our life and liberty but actually we understand our own security and we are safer here in Punjab. In fact, an individual charged with anti-RSS or other anti-other Hindu organisations killings is in more danger outside of Punjab”.
Manjhpur suggests that if the NIA’s concerns about Jagtar Singh’s safety are genuine, they should allow his release on bail, at which point they would not be responsible for ensuring his safety, and the responsibility would fall onto Jagtar’s legal team.
Manjhpur: ‘“This is a political statement on behalf of the NIA, and the court has been misled. They also tried to overrule and supersede the court as well as putting undue pressure on it”.
He continues: “We are confident that this appeal will be dismissed by the NIA court”.
The NIA special court, under Ms. Anshul Berry, dismisses the NIA application to transfer Jagtar Singh, along with nine others, outside of Punjab. This decision had been expected by Jagtar’s defence team, as the application was not in conjunction with any provision of Indian law, nor did it fall under the jurisdiction of the NIA special court. Despite this, the NIA had obtained support for the application from the Indian Home Ministry and — shockingly — was not objected to by the Punjab nor Delhi governments. Read more here.
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More than 100 days into Jagtar Singh Johal’s arrest and detention:
- No charge has been levelled against him
- No private meeting has taken place with the British consulate
- No independent medical examination has taken place
Jasraj S Hothi
Monday 19th February, 2018