“UK Decides Against Calling for Release of Briton Held in India on Terror Charges”

Jagtar Singh Johal says he was tortured and forced to sign a confession by Indian authorities.

The UK government has opted not to advocate for the release of a British man, Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained in an Indian prison for five years. The decision was made, citing concerns that it would not be in his best interests.

Johal has alleged that he was subjected to torture and coerced into making a confession. He currently faces terrorism charges, and his trial has just commenced after numerous delays due to disputes over evidence.


Over 70 Members of Parliament recently urged British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to request Johal’s release during his visit to Delhi for the G20 leaders’ summit.

The refusal to call for Johal’s release was conveyed in a letter dated September 8, addressed to Johal’s MP, Martin Docherty-Hughes. The letter, signed by the Minister for Asia, Lord Ahmad, stated that such a call could be seen as interference in the Indian judicial process, potentially jeopardizing the UK’s ability to offer consular assistance.

The UK Foreign Office maintained that its decision not to request Johal’s release did not indicate a weakening of its position. However, Johal’s brother and the campaign group Reprieve rejected this assertion as absurd.

“UK Decides Against Calling for Release of Briton Held in India on Terror Charges”

Docherty-Hughes criticized the prime minister’s choice to prioritize a free trade deal with India over the life of a British citizen, along with dismissing the reasonable request made by more than 70 MPs from various parties.

Dan Dolan, the advocacy director at Reprieve, argued that the government’s stance on Johal’s case could not be any weaker. He emphasized that a political solution was necessary for a problem that originated with a torture confession and lacked any admissible evidence for six years.

Johal’s brother, Gurpreet, expressed frustration at the government’s inaction, emphasizing that his brother had been imprisoned on false charges related to his human rights activism for six years.

Johal, 36, was a blogger and human rights campaigner for Sikh rights. He traveled to India in 2017 to get married but was allegedly abducted, tortured, and forced to sign blank papers while out shopping with his wife.

In May 2022, the UN working group on arbitrary detention concluded that Johal had been arbitrarily detained and that his detention violated international human rights law.

The UK Foreign Office seems to have refrained from advocating for his release after privately calling for Johal to stand trial. UK-India relations are at a delicate stage, with trade negotiations reaching a critical point.

There were also allegations in August 2022 that British security services may have provided information to Indian authorities leading to Johal’s arrest.

“UK Decides Against Calling for Release of Briton Held in India on Terror Charges”

Johal faces charges related to targeted killings in Punjab between January 2016 and October 2017, which Indian police allege were part of a conspiracy by the Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF), an organization Johal was said to be associated with. KLF was described as a “terrorist gang” in court documents.

The Foreign Office has been contacted for comment.

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