July 2022 Newsletter Newsletter

Scotsman Facing Death Penalty in India

Jagtar Singh Johal is a young Scotsman facing the death penalty in India. He had translated for an activist website called neverforget84 which refers to Indian troops storming the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest site. In October 2017, Jagtar travelled to India to get married. Just two weeks later, he was abducted off the street by plain clothes police officers in front of his wife. He was tortured with electricity into ‘confessing’ involvement in an alleged conspiracy to murder right-wing Hindu leaders. His only access to a lawyer was 10 days after his arrest when he handed over notes describing his torture. He currently has ten cases pending against him, nine of which are based primarily on his ‘confessions’. He was only in India when one of these took place and this was on the day before his wedding while he was at a family party. Only one of these ten cases has even commenced trial in four years. Jagtar is being held partly under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which critics say is used to suppress Sikhs – they make up 99 per cent of arrests in the Punjab under this law.

In 2019, the human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce claimed that the officers running the investigation had previously been convicted of involvement in disappearances, torture and murder. Last month, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that there is ‘no judicially admissible evidence…despite intelligence agencies having over three years to investigate.’ It concluded that his detention ‘lacks legal basis and is arbitrary’. Documenting ‘multiple variations of… [his] right to a fair trial’, it demanded Jagtar’s immediate release, but the British government has refused to call directly and publicly for this. Jagtar’s is the last of our Actions in Action Links. Please help him.  For more information, go to https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-55809336