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Scottish NRI ‘Tortured’ By Punjab Police, Outraging Sikh Diaspora

The Scottish NRI was arrested by Punjab police in Jalandhar for allegedly killing Hindu right-wing leaders. 

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Jagtar Singh Johal, a 30-year old Scottish Sikh, had flown down to Punjab from Dumbarton in Scotland’s West Dunbartonshire council area for his wedding in the month of October. On 4 November, Jagtar along with three other men, were taken into custody by the Punjab police.

In a statement by the Punjab Police, the four arrests were made because of his alleged involvement in the targeted killings of high-profile figures over the last two years.

He is suspected to be an accomplice in the killing of RSS and right-wing leaders like Brigadier (retd) Jagdish Gagneja in 2016, a pastor called Sultan Masih in July and Ravinder Gosain in October this year. He has also been allegedly conspiring, coordinating, arranging funds and weapons for the terror outfit called Khalistani Liberation Force, reported Hindustan Times
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Johal’s Alleged ‘Modus Operandi’

31-year old Johal alias Jaggi was under the vigilance of the intelligence wing of Punjab Police for running an outfit called ‘Never Forget 1984’. Close to 100 officials did an extensive analysis of 10,000 Facebook accounts of Sikh radicals operating in various countries of Europe. 

After tracking his movement on social media for more than a year, he caught the police’s eye after information was further provided by a source in the UK Punjab police about his involvement.

Sources in the police told the paper that Jaggi, who ‘radicalised Sikh youths through social media’, used an email account, GURI_420@hotmail.com, which offered pivotal clues leading to his arrest. Reportedly, Johal ran a magazine manifesting ‘atrocities during the 1984 Sikh Genocide’.

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Global Outrage Over Alleged ‘Inhumane Treatment’ in Custody

The arrest has caught the ire of Sikhs, promulgating a face-off between the Sikh diaspora across continents and the Punjab Police for Johal’s alleged ‘inhumane treatment in custody’.

As reported by The Independent, in his first court appearance on 14 November, his lawyer claimed that he had subjected to ‘body separation techniques’ and electric shocks while being denied British consulate access for 10 days after his arrest. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office along with Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) have condemned the attack and conveyed concerns of human rights violations to the Indian government.

Representatives from the Foreign Office have met with Jagtar Singh Johal and obviously are pursuing the case and watching what is happening with concern and will take action (deemed) necessary.
Theresa May told BBC Asian Network
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In a telephonic conversation with ET Magazine from London, Gurpreet Singh Johal, a solicitor in Scotland and Jagtar’s brother said that the his brother should not have been arrested in India as the alleged crimes were committed in his absence.

My parents and I are deeply concerned about legal processes in India. We fear my brother has been tortured by the Punjab Police who are refusing an independent medical examination. 
Gurpreet Singh Johal, Jagtar’s brother told Economic Times magazine

Voicing concerns against the torture, Opposition leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn assured that the issue will be discussed with Preet Kaur Gill, the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for British Sikhs and Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, as reported by The Telegraph.

We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action as appropriate. When considering how to act, we will avoid any action that might put the individual in question, or any other person that may be affected, at risk. 
British Foreign Office spokesperson told Al Jazeera
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Rory Stewart, a minister with Foreign Office responsibilities, acknowledged the gravity of the case and promised ‘extreme action’ if the claims of abuse are proven true.

Punjab Chief Minister Denies Using Torture

However, Captain Amarinder Singh vociferously supported the role of Punjab Police in the detention and arrest of Jagtar in an exclusive interview to The Economic Times. Terming the allegations ‘baseless’, the Punjab Chief Minister said that due process was being followed.

Refuting claims of torture, the Punjab police spokesperson stated that there was ‘enough evidence to prove Johal’s complicity in the case’. The NRI was produced in front of a judicial magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest as laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code, the spokesperson said.

Mobilisation by Campaign Groups

Hundreds of Sikhs held a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London in support of Jaguar Johal on 16 November. Sikh campaign groups are using the hashtag #FreeJaggiNow on Twitter and amassing 50,000 signatures in a petition calling for Johal’s release. He is slated to appear in court on 30 November.

However, the Punjab Police has deemed the online campaigns to save Johal as “unfortunate and uncalled for”.

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