Gurpreet Johal: 1,500 Days Of #FreeJaggiNow
Jagtar has been subjected to over 235 hearings and to date no evidence has been produced against him
December 12, 2021 | 3 min. read | Opinion
British born and bred national; Jagtar Singh Johal woke up in an Indian jail cell today. He hasn’t slept in his own bed for 1500 days.
My brother is so many things - a husband, an uncle, a grandson, a friend, a blogger, a researcher, an Arsenal supporter. But he's not a criminal and he's not been convicted of anything.
Never mind being convicted, no formal charges have been framed against him on the serious allegations pushed by the Indian State.
Jagtar has been subjected to over 235 hearings and to date no evidence has been produced against him. Jagtar has been subjected to continuous adjournments by the Indian Authorities.
Our whole family is being punished for something he has not been tried or convicted of and after 1500 days we are still trying to get the UK Government to use the full weight of its diplomatic power to help us bring Jagtar home.
A raft of Parliamentarian’s and expert charities agree his treatment is arbitrary detention. Why doesn't the UK Government agree?
Those 1,500 days have gone by so slowly, but the world has shifted since Jagtar was abducted off the street just a fortnight after his wedding day.
We have been through two prime ministers and four foreign secretaries. We have entered a global pandemic. We have hosted COP26 in Glasgow, the city where my brother was born.
How much more will Jagtar miss? How much more of his life will be wasted in a cell in Delhi while ministers sit on their hands?
As a solicitor, I understand how due process works. Jagtar's treatment is nothing like due process and to date we still have not heard a single piece of evidence against him.
Our family believes he was abducted for his nationality, his religion and his blogging about the brutality against Sikhs in India in 1984. If there is evidence against Jagtar, let us hear it; let the world hear it.
Otherwise, do the right thing and release him.
As a British national, I am genuinely shocked with how the UK Government have treated my brother's case and our family. Despite claiming to be supporting both, they have far from done so.
The UK Government subjected Jagtar's wife through her own immigration battle in the UK and wanted to remove her from the country.
Initially, the application was refused however an appeal was granted. After hearing the arguments from the Home Office and Jagtar's wife, the Immigration Judge allowed the appeal, but the Home Office appealed the decision on an error of law, astonishingly the Tribunal granted permission, therefore a hearing was heard by the Upper Tribunal.
The ground that the Home Office were granted permission was a ground that could not genuinely be relied on as it was misconstrued, nonetheless the Home Office continued to pursue.
It comes as no surprise when the Upper Tribunal Judge found "The grounds disagree on the facts, but they are both selective and, to an extent, misleading", accordingly the First Tier Tribunal decision shall stand.
Whilst one would have thought that the Home Office would now stop and grant leave to remain, nope, they decided to apply for permission to appeal to the Court of Session at the Inner House. For those that do not know, this is the Highest Court in Scotland.
As a family, we were astonished the UK Government were so hell bent on sending Jagtar's wife back that they were prepared to take the matter to the Inner House, however the Upper Tribunal refused permission and finally after over a year of fighting her own battle, Jagtar's wife was granted Humanitarian Protection in the UK in September 2021.
Jagtar's wife's plea to meet with Boris Johnson and Liz Truss was deflected to Lord Ahmad therefore this begs the question as to what exactly are they doing to seek Jagtar's release and return.
The UK Government claims India is a "good friend" despite this. They also state that they have raised Jagtar's case over 70 times but have not received a "satisfactory response”. Clearly a one sided friendship.
The UK Government must exert all of its diplomatic power on Jagtar’s behalf. Because if this can happen to my brother, a law-abiding newly-wed who lived for his nephews and supported me through university, it can happen to others too.
Please write to your MP and ask them to help bring arbitrarily detained Jagtar home. Ask them to tell the Prime Minister to help #FreeJaggiNow
A version of this op-ed first appeared in the Scottish National.
Gurpreet Singh Johal hails from Glasgow, Scotland. He is an Immigration Solicitor, founder of the Scottish charity Sikh Legal Assistance Board, the brother of Jagtar Singh Johal, and the family lead campaigner for the Free Jaggi Now campaign. You can find Gurpreet on Twitter at @GSJohal85.
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