United Nations investigators have called for the immediate release of a Scottish Sikh man imprisoned in India.
Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was arrested on November 4 2017 after traveling to the Punjab for his wedding, with local media linking his detention to the killing of right-wing Hindu leaders in the area. He is yet to stand trial.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said the “continued pre-trial detention of Mr Johal lacks legal basis and is arbitrary”.
“Mr Johal was targeted because of his activities as a Sikh practitioner and supporter and because of his activism writing public posts calling for accountability for alleged actions committed against Sikhs by the authorities,” the 17-page report said.
In their report, the authors said he was abducted by 15 plainclothes police officers who placed a hood over his head and pulled him into an unmarked car.
Shortly after his arrest Mr Johal, known to family as Jaggi, claimed he was tortured with electric shocks into signing a false confession.
Gurpreet Singh Johal, his brother, said his family was “dreaming of the moment” he was reunited with them.
“The UK Government hasn’t listened to us, but perhaps it will listen to the UN and call for his release,” he said.
“We’re dreaming of the moment my brother steps off a plane in Scotland to be reunited with his family.”
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, described the report’s publication as a “watershed moment”.
“There is no longer any excuse for the Government’s continued failure to call for Jagtar’s release and return,” she said.
“When a British citizen is tortured and held in pre-trial detention for four years, facing a potential death sentence, the Prime Minister’s responsibility is clear. What is Boris Johnson waiting for?”
Charlie Loudon, international legal adviser at Redress, said: “Now that a panel of UN experts has called for Jagtar’s release, it is imperative that the UK Government does the same.”