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Over 70 British MPs raise Johal’s arrest in Punjab

WT24 Desk

More than 70 MPs from different political parties have signed a letter by Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill to prime minister Theresa May, raising the issue of alleged torture of British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal, who was arrested in Punjab in November 2017, The Hindustan Times reports .

Seeking an urgent statement in the Parliament from foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the letter referred to reports in the British media about Johal being allegedly tortured. He has been denied an independent medical examination, the letter said.

Johal’s arrest has often been raised by British ministers and officials with Indian counterparts, including during the April visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Punjab police rubbished the reports about the alleged torture of Johal while in custody.

“All these allegations are baseless. Due legal process was followed during the arrest of Johal and he underwent proper medical examination under supervision of the court during remand,” a Punjab police spokesperson said.

A team that included Andrew Ayne, the British deputy high commissioner at Chandigarh, had a 65-minute consular access meeting with Johal at Ludhiana on November 24, 2017, the spokesperson said, adding: “A malicious campaign has been launched by militants and their sympathisers as well as radical elements in Britain which is nothing but a slanderous campaign.”

Gill, who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Sikhs, wrote in the letter: “We have also written to the chief minister of Punjab, captain Amarinder Singh, but to no avail.

“In light of these shocking new allegations, I call on you to use all the diplomatic means at your disposal to ensure that the Government of India abides by the rule of law and ensures that Mr Johal is not subjected to torture.”

Signatories include Indian-origin MPs such as Keith Vaz, Virendra Sharma, Seema Malhotra and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (all Labour Party).

Amrik Singh, chair of the campaign group Sikh Federation (UK) said: “We thank Preet Kaur Gill, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs and its eight vice-chairs from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party for raising the plight of Jagtar Singh Johal.”

Johal was among five people arrested in connection with the targeted killing of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja. He has been accused of involvement in arranging funding and weapons for militants involved in five killings in 2016 and 2017.

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