Liberal Members of Parliament, Randeep S. Sarai and Raj Grewal have issued a joint letter to the High Commissioner of India to Canada, Vikas Swarup urging an investigation into the detention of Jagtar Singh Johal in the state of Punjab.
By PD Raj – Senior Writer DESIBUZZCanada
OTTAWA – Liberal Members of Parliament, Randeep S. Sarai and Raj Grewal have issued a joint letter to the High Commissioner of India to Canada, Vikas Swarup urging an investigation into the detention of Jagtar Singh Johal in the state of Punjab.
Johal, who is from the United Kingdom, was in India to get married and has been detained since November 4, 2017. Since his detention there are grave concerns that Johal has not had access to his legal counsel or access to consular services from the British High Commission, which is the right of every British citizen
Both MP Sarai and MP Grewal are lawyers and active Members of Parliament. Although they respect the criminal justice system in Punjab, they are extremely concerned with the allegations of torture and the lack of due process that is occurring in this case.
Sarai commented, “I’m passing on the concerns of Canadians who understand that due process and the rule of law must be respected in any democracy. Jagtar Singh Johal deserves these fundamental human rights.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada also expressed deep concerned about the alleged treatment received by Johal.
Johal was allegedly abducted by plain-clothes officers of the Punjab Police on November 4 in Punjab while shopping with his wife. He was forced into a van after having a black hood placed over his head. Johal has not been charged with any crime but remains in police remand. It is believed that his arrest is connected to his activities on social media highlighting the Sikh genocide and the running of a website.
Despite being a UK citizen, Johal was denied access to a lawyer or consular services during the first days of his incarceration. He has told his lawyer that for the first three days he was subjected to torture such as electrical shocks and ‘body separation techniques’.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “we are alarmed by the treatment received by Jagtar Singh Johal in Indian custody. Mr. Johal, who is born and raised in the UK, had initially been denied consular services and access to a lawyer. Furthermore, it is unacceptable that he has allegedly been subjected to torture in custody. We had seen these kinds of abductions and arrests during the 80s and 90s but it is shocking that they continue today. The Indian state police are well known for their resort to torture during interrogations and those accused of crimes are often held in custody pending trial for periods longer than would be imposed upon an actual conviction. The alleged ‘crimes’ Mr. Johal is accused of such as running a website and printing a magazine about the Sikh genocide do not appear to be crimes at all. If the Indian authorities have actual evidence of wrongdoing against Mr. Johal, that should be brought forward at the earliest or else he should be released.”