On 4 November, 2017, Scottish National Jagtar Singh Johal was out shopping with his newlywed wife in Jalandhar, when men suddenly approached him, threw a sack over his head, and forced him into a vehicle.
Jagtar’s whereabouts were unknown until he was produced in court the next day, and it was revealed that the men who had abducted him were police officers dressed in civilian clothing.
Following his court appearance on 5 November, 2017, the Chief Minister of Panjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, DGP Suresh Arora, and Indian news outlets began to report on 7 November, 2017 that Jagtar was guilty of helping plan the murders of various Hindu leaders in India.
What is astonishing to this day is that although Jagtar has not been formally charged with any specific crime, Indian politicians and media have already declared him guilty. Despite there not being any due process of law, Jagtar continues to be tried in the Indian media and being labeled a criminal.
Additionally, it has been confirmed that Jagtar was tortured in police custody during the first few days of his abduction. Not only did Jagtar suffer torture at the hands of Indian authorities, his wife and family have also been subjected to harassment.
There were applications submitted in court for Jagtar to receive an independent medical examination because of the torture he suffered while in custody and his ongoing detainment. To this day, the Indian authorities and the NIA have not responded to these requests, nor have they been held accountable for this non-compliance.
It is believed that Jagtar was targeted for his social activism. Jagtar, like thousands of Sikhs worldwide, continue to be haunted by the Sikh Genocide in 1984 and the ongoing persecution of Sikhs in India. While voices yearning to highlight the human rights violations in India continue to be stifled, Sikhs have turned to peaceful protests, demonstrations, online resources and social media to help bring attention to these issues.
Currently, Jagtar remains incarcerated in Nabha Jail. While imprisoned, he has not been allowed to have any private meetings with his legal counsel or the British High Commission.
In mid-February of this year, Jagtar will have been confined in Indian police custody for 100 days, enduring more than 20 hearings and repeated police remand.
One of the most important points of this case was stated by Jagtar’s lawyer, Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur: if the Indian authorities were not able to present any incriminating evidence or recovery within a few days of his detainment, what evidence will they present now after so many weeks in custody?
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