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Rights groups accuse UK of arresting Sikh blogger in India | Human Rights News

Reprieve and Redress claim that British spy agencies may have shared data on British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal with India.

Human rights groups say British intelligence agencies may have shared information with India that led to the arrest and torture of a Sikh blogger from Scotland.

Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained in India for more than four years, is accused of being part of a “terrorist plot” against right-wing Hindu leaders and has been charged with conspiracy to murder.

“Our investigators have uncovered critical information that in 2017 the UK government allowed MI5 and MI6 to share information about British citizen Jagtar Singh Johal,” two organizations, Reprieve and Redress, said in a joint statement on Tuesday. .

They claimed that this denunciation “led to his unlawful arrest and torture in India”.

Johal, from Dumbarton in the west of Scotland, has lodged a complaint against the UK government and is represented by UK law firm Leigh Day.

He demands a public apology and reparation from the government.

Johal’s arrest

Reprieve and Redress said Johal had a bag thrown over his head and was abducted in 2017 while in India for his wedding.

He was held incommunicado for 10 days and tortured with electric shocks to his earlobes, nipples and genitals until he signed a “false confession”.

“Evidence has now been uncovered that UK intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 may have contributed to the detention and torture of Jagtar by sharing intelligence with Indian authorities,” the NGOs said.

They accused the UK of sharing the information when there is “a real risk that Jagtar will be tortured, ill-treated or face the death penalty”.

Rupert Skilbeck, director of Redress, called for a “comprehensive review of how the UK government responds when UK citizens are tortured overseas” and “of the role of the intelligence community in this”.

Leigh Day argues that an anonymized case study in a 2018 report by a British Home Office body, the Investigative Powers Commission, appears to discuss Johal’s case.

The commission oversees the use of secret investigative powers by UK authorities, including the police and intelligence services.

He said the national spy agency MI5 and its foreign counterpart MI6 passed information about a British national to foreign authorities, leading to his detention and torture.

“Discriminatory grounds”

“It would be totally unacceptable if the actions of the UK government had exposed any individual, let alone a UK citizen, to torture or the death penalty,” said Leigh Day partner Waleed Sheikh.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention reported this year that Johal’s arrest was “arbitrary” and based on “discriminatory grounds”.

He said the “online activist…contributed to a magazine and website documenting the persecution of the Sikh religious minority in India.”

The activist is being held in Tihar prison in New Delhi, the UN agency said.

The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said in response to the allegations that it would be “inappropriate” to comment during court proceedings.