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Detained in Modi’s India: A British citizen’s story

Detained in Modi’s India: A British citizen’s story


For five years a British citizen has been locked up in an Indian prison, and the British state hasn’t been willing – or not strong enough – to stand up for him

Why this story?

Jagtar Johal is the man the British state chose to forget. In 2017, the young British Sikh was in India for his wedding. It was meant to be the happiest time of his life. But while he was out with his new wife, more than a dozen Punjabi police jumped on him and threw him into a car. His family say he was a human rights blogger. Hindu nationalist officials allege he was some sort of terrorist mastermind.

After he was taken, Jagtar says that he was tortured, that police threatened to burn him alive and forced him to sign a false statement. Since then, he’s been locked up in a maximum-security prison in Delhi, waiting for a trial. No solid evidence seems to have been produced against him. Usually, when this happens, the UK government jumps into action, lobbying hard to get them out. But their response to Jagtar’s plight has been feeble and shrouded in secrecy. There is strong evidence suggesting that the British intelligence services traded away Jagtar’s life in some sort of intelligence deal, but they won’t comment on anything. 

Who is Jagtar Johal? Why was he arrested? Was he a human rights activist or a terrorist? What role did the British state play in his arrest? Is the UK just brushing the case under the table, hoping to get a post-Brexit trade deal with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India? Will Brown, Senior Reporter 

Past reporting