THE family of a Dumbarton man imprisoned in India for almost 900 days say they have not heard from him since September and fear for his health.

Gurpreet Singh Johal last spoke to his brother, 33-year-old Jagtar, aka “Jaggi”, Johal, on September 5, 2019.

Tihar Jail, near New Delhi, went into lockdown with the rest of India in March, and prison authorities have suspended all visits due to lockdown.

Gurpreet, a 34-year-old immigration lawyer, knows nothing about his brother’s health.

Gurpreet said: “We think it is hard being in lockdown for 30 or so days, but that’s nothing compared to being in prison in India for almost 900 days.

“We have got a family history of respiratory weakness and have no idea what conditions Jaggi is imprisoned in. How is his well-being?”

CORONAVIRUS LIVE: Get the latest here

He added: “We have had no contact or visits or conversations. We have to rely on what the FCO tell us, and they are relying on what the prison tells them over the phone.

“All we want is a clarification that he is fine, how he’s doing. And then we want him released, for him and his wife to start their lives together.”

Jaggi was arrested two weeks after his Punjabi wedding in November 2017. According to Gurpreet, authorities “pulled him off the street with a hood over his head” for his alleged involvement in a murder plot.

Jaggi and his family maintain he is innocent.

Gurpreet said: “Theresa May put Jaggi’s case to the Indian prime minister in April 2018 but still nothing has happened and we are no closer to knowing if he is okay, and now during lockdown it has become even harder.

“No one from the family is able to go over to India now. It has been a nightmare for our family.”

Jaggi is currently held in prison on seven counts of murder.

According to Gurpreet, Jaggi has made more than 220 court appearances, but no evidence has been led against him.

On March 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi put India’s 1.3 billion population under lockdown.

Gurpeet said: "We are reliant on the FCO and then the Tihar Jail for news on Jaggi.

“I don’t believe they will tell us even if he does have Covid-19. This is just one unimaginable nightmare. I keep thinking one day I will wake up from it.”

Martin Docherty-Hughes, West Dunbartonshire MP, said: “Having been denied access to an independent medical examination, Jagtar’s current health condition is unclear and there are serious concerns about his risk of contracting Covid-19 in cramped prison conditions.

“Jagtar’s family have shown remarkable strength and determination during these difficult times. I will continue to press the UK Government to safeguard Jagtar’s human rights and speak up for fairness, justice and due process.”

A spokesperson from the FCO said: “The Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, has written to the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs to request an update on this case.

“Lord Ahmad has also offered to meet with Jagtar’s brother to discuss the case.”


Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. We're not exaggerating when we say that the future of the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter is under threat.
Please consider supporting the Reporter in whatever way you can – by paying just 85p for a copy of the paper, when you're shopping for essential supplies for yourself and others, or by subscribing to our e-edition here.
Thanks – and stay safe.