British-Indian MPs lobby May over torture of British-Sikh in Punjab
Indian-origin MPs are among 70 lawmakers in Britain lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May to intervene at the "highest levels" with the Indian Government over allegations of torture against a British-Sikh murder suspect lodged in a Punjab jail. Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton in Scotland, was arrested by the Indian authorities in November last year on charges of fanning communal disturbance in Punjab. Here's more.
UK Sikh groups had launched "Free Jaggi" drive for the 31-year-old and the issue has also been raised in the House of Commons. As part of renewed efforts in the case, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British-Sikhs has gathered signatures of over 70 MPs on a letter demanding a Parliament statement by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Johal's detention in India.
"In a recent handwritten account, Mr. Johal alleges 'Electric shocks were administered by placing the crocodile-clips on my earlobes, nipples and private parts,'" writes Labor MP and Chair of the APPG for British-Sikhs, Preet Kaur Gill, in her letter dated July 2 to Downing Street. The letter added that Johal was given threats of being shot dead in a remote location.
The signatories to the letter include Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labor MP and Vice-Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs, and his Labor party colleagues Seema Malhotra, Virendra Sharma, and Keith Vaz. They claim that representations to Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh had been to "no avail" and urge PM Theresa May to "use all the diplomatic means" at her disposal.
The MPs also allege that the Indian government has ignored representations by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the Vice-Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Johal, a Scottish-born Sikh, was in Jalandhar with his family for his wedding in October when he was arrested by plainclothes police officials in the city. The Punjab government has claimed that he is among four suspects arrested in relation to the murder of Hindu leaders in Punjab. The Indian Government maintains that "due process" is being followed in the case.