British Sikh held in Tihar for Punjab insurgency writes to PM Truss for his release
Jagtar Singh Johal, a Briton accused of being involved in the Punjab insurgency and detained in Tihar jail for nearly five years, has written to UK PM Liz Truss to secure his release and not use him as trade-off for a bilateral business deal.
Johal is facing 11 cases of targeted killings in Punjab as part of a Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) plot, which he denies. Charges in five cases were to be framed Wednesday before an NIA special court, but the prosecution was granted an adjournment to September 24.
He recently handed a hand-written note to his lawyers in a Delhi court addressed to Truss. "I hope you will show more guts than your predecessors when it comes to addressing the issue of UK citizens languishing in Indian jails for years without trial,” he wrote.
He hoped that when Truss visits India to finalise a trade deal, she won’t “overlook the fact that two UK citizens, myself and Christian Michel, are being held in Tihar jail, in separate but highly politically motivated cases. It is my hope that our freedom will not be traded in return for increased trade with India.”
Michel has been detained since December 2018 in the AgustaWestland helicopter scam.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion that both men are being arbitrarily detained. The British Parliament debated about Johal on Wednesday and many MPs called for his release.
SNP MP Chris Stephens said trade negotiations must cease unless Johal is released, arguing that it shouldn’t happen when “a UK national faces the death penalty”.
Foreign Rehman Chishti said: “This case is a priority for the UK government.” But he refused to say Johal was being arbitrarily detained: “The new PM and foreign secretary will need to come to their own opinion.”
Start the conversation