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Canadian politicians led by NDP chief voice concern at ‘torture’ of targeted killing’s accused Johal by Punjab cops

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said “reports of torture including electrocution” by “Indian authorities” were “deeply chilling and require immediate attention.”

punjab Updated: Nov 19, 2017 12:12 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Ottawa
Canadian politicians,New Democratic Party,Jagtar Singh Johal
Jagtar Singh Johal (HT File)

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s federal New Democratic Party (NDP) has waded into the controversy surrounding the detention of British national Jagtar Singh Johal and said “reports of torture including electrocution” by “Indian authorities” were “deeply chilling and require immediate attention.”

Tweeting a report from the BBC, Singh noted , “The allegations of torture should rattle lovers of democracy and human rights to their innermost core.”

Two MPs belonging to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party also raised the matter in a letter to India’s High Commissioner in Ottawa, Vikas Swarup. The letter was sent by Raj Grewal, who represents Brampton East in the House of Commons, and Randeep Sarai, MP for Surrey Centre.

In that letter, the two MPs stated: “We strongly urge you to investigate this immediately.” They said they were “extremely concerned with the allegations of torture and lack of due process.” They added that since “his detention” there were “grave concerns” that Johal had “not had access to his legal counsel or access to consular services from the British High Commission, which is the right of every British citizen.”

The Indian High Commission has offered no comment on this matter. Both MPs also took to Twitter to underscore their concern.

Grewal tweeted, “The allegations of torture must be taken seriously, the right to counsel and consular services is fundamental to the rule of law and due process.” Meanwhile, Sarai’s tweet noted they were “passing on the concerns of Canadians who understand that due process and the rule of law must be respected in any democracy. Jagtar Singh Johal deserves these fundamental human rights.”

This chorus of complaints from Canadian politicians followed similar sentiment being expressed by the World Sikh Organisation (WSO). In a statement, its president Mukhbir Singh said they were “alarmed by the treatment received by Jagtar Singh Johal in Indian custody.” He also found it “unacceptable that he has allegedly been subjected to torture in custody. We had seen these kinds of abductions and arrests during the 1980s and 1990s but it is shocking that they continue today.”

The WSO statement said, despite being a UK citizen, Johal was denied access to a lawyer or consular services during the first days of his incarceration. He has told his lawyer that for the first three days he was subjected to torture such as electrical shocks and ‘body separation’ techniques.”

Speaking to HT, Punjab DGP Suresh Arora denied human rights violation in Johal’s investigation. “We are investigating the case with sincerity and as per the law. We have gathered enough proof against Johal and other accused in the case,” said the DGP.

First Published: Nov 18, 2017 12:28 IST