Keir Starmer urges Boris Johnson to demand the release of Scottish Jagtar Singh Johal detained in India

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Prime Minister to seek the “immediate release” of a Scotsman who has been detained in India for five years.

Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested by Indian authorities on his way to his wedding there in 2017.

He is being held without trial under India’s anti-terrorism laws after being accused of conspiring to assassinate a number of right-wing Hindu leaders.

The 35-year-old maintains his innocence and claims to have been tortured by police in prison.

Earlier this month, the UN task force concluded Jagtar’s imprisonment was ‘arbitrary’ and called for his immediate release, saying the Scotsman ‘was being targeted because of his activities as a as a practitioner and Sikh supporter and because of his activism”.



The family of Jagtar Singh Johal of Dumbarton.

Now Sir Keir has written to Boris Johnson asking why the UK government has not followed the UN’s lead and made a formal request for Jagtar’s release.

In a letter shared with the Daily Record, he wrote: “As you know, Jagtar was arrested in 2017 after traveling to India for his wedding where he was tortured by police officers to make a so-called ‘confession’ on charges carrying the death penalty.

“The UN panel of experts concluded that there was no legal basis for Jagtar’s continued detention and pointed out that he had been tortured and denied the right to a fair trial.



Jagtar Singh Johal from Dumbarton who was arrested in India while on holiday with his family

“When a British national has been so badly mistreated, without legal basis, the British government must act decisively to negotiate his release. Yet it seems that the British government has not followed the lead of the UN and made a formal request for the release of Jagtar.

“So on behalf of Jagtar’s family, I would like to ask why this request has not been made and when they can expect your government to make the request?”



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Sir Keir also offered Labor’s backing in all-party support to secure Jagtar’s release.

He added: “The UK has a deep and enduring connection to India, and it is vital that our governments work together to constructively resolve cases like this. I therefore urge you to call for the immediate release of Jagtar from prison and bring this young Briton home to his family in Dumbarton.”

Gurpreet Singh Johal, who was recently elected Labor Councilor for West Dunbartonshire, is campaigning tirelessly with his family for his brother’s release.



Jagtar Singh Johal at his wedding in India.
Jagtar Singh Johal at his wedding in India.

He said: “It has been a long and arduous journey. It is hoped that this push from Keir will finally force the Prime Minister to act and bring my brother home where he belongs.

“It all started under Boris as Foreign Minister, now as Prime Minister he has the opportunity to rectify his mistakes.”

The British government said it had “constantly” raised concerns about Jagtar’s case with India, with the Prime Minister recently raising the issue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they met in April.


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Edward L. Robinett