Jagtar Singh Johal case: British intelligence provided tip-off for arrest of Sikh citizen in India

His lawyers allege that he was arrested after British intelligence agencies MI6 and MI5 supplied information that led to his arrest by Indian authorities

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, August 23, 2022, 11:03 AM IST
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British national Jagtar Singh Johal, who was arrested in Punjab | Twitter/@RamanGill66

British national Jagtar Singh Johal, being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which deals with terror-related cases, was arrested after British intelligence agencies MI6 and MI5 supplied information that led to his arrest by Indian authorities, British media have reported.

Lawyers representing Johal have lodged a complaint at the High Court of Justice in London, after identifying his case among anonymised details published in the annual report by the UK’s investigatory powers commissioner.

It lays out how MI5 and MI6 passed information to a foreign power (India) about a British national who was 'detained and tortured'.

The details of the case precisely matched those of Johal’s.

The British government claims that Johal has been 'arbitrarily detained' in India for five years and faces the death penalty over his alleged role in a Khalistani extremist group. He was arrested while visiting Punjab in 2017.

The Indian government has cited significant Khalistani outreach towards Indian-origin British MPs for their support towards Johal and insisted that their opposition is based on appeasing sentiments of large voting blocs.

In May this year, Johal was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and being a member of a terrorist group.

Johal is currently being held in a Delhi prison. He has alleged that, following his arrest, he was held incommunicado, was brutally interrogated for hours on end, and was initially denied access to lawyers or British consular officials.

He says he was made to sign blank sheets of paper that were later used against him as a false confession.

In July, a letter by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Labour Party leader and Member of Parliament Keir Starmer disclosed he believed British national Jagtar Singh Johal, alias Jaggi Johal, has been “detained arbitrarily” in India. The British PM has also raised the issue of Jaggi Johal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Who is Jagtar Singh Johal?

Johal, 34, is a British national and a resident of Dumbarton, Scotland. According to his family, Johal was an online activist and contributed to a magazine and website documenting the alleged persecution of the Sikhs in India.

Johal’s activities consisted of translating the stories of Sikhs who had allegedly faced persecution in India into English.

He arrived in India on October 2, 2017, for his marriage to a Punjabi woman and got married on October 18.

He was arrested on November 4, 2017, from Raman Mandi town of Jalandhar district by a team of the Punjab Police. He was initially arrested in connection with an arms recovery case registered at Baghapurana in December 2016.

Subsequently, he was named as an accused in seven cases, five of those being murder charges (targeted killings) and two being attempt to murder charges (attempted targeted killings). Activists and members of right-wing Hindu outfits, the Dera Sirsa followers, and even a Christian activist (a pastor) were targeted in these killings.

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