IN November 2017, a Scottish newlywed in India was abducted from the street by unknown men.

Though his family feared they were kidnappers, they turned out to be police and Jagtar Singh Johal, a Sikh blogger and internet marketer, has been in detention ever since.

Authorities said they had the evidence to convict him of involvement in an assassination plot, but nothing has been presented in court.

His torture claims have never been investigated and he has not spoken to his family for almost one year.

July 30 will mark his 1000th day in prison.

In today’s Sunday National, his solicitor brother Gurpreet presents a letter to Jagtar, together with previously unseen photographs, with permission from the family.


Dear Jagtar,

I HOPE you are well and coping under the circumstances. The phone call from your new wife Gurpreet telling me you were pulled out of the car, hooded and bungled into a van totally shocked us all. I can still remember Gurpreet saying “come to India, come to India”, and without a thought I came there. All I could think about at the time was where have you been taken, who has taken you and how do I find you?

Travelling to India was the easy step, trying to find out where you were wasn’t so easy. It was midnight when we arrived and we went straight to the British High Commission, not thinking it would be closed at that time, then travelled all night to the British High Commission in Chandigarh.

We even ended up at the Punjab Police Headquarters on the same day before we got to where we were staying.

Looking back now, it was the office of the same Detective General of Police who sat in the open press conference claiming to have all evidence against you. That press conference scared everyone back home to the extent they wanted us to come back home immediately. They were scared we would also be captured.

Leaving you there was the hardest decision of my life. Leaving Punjab was like the Indian films we used to watch, having to send your passport in one car and us travelling in another just in case we were stopped and your passport was taken off us or we were accused of running away with your passport (that’s a story to tell you once you are back home).

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We had hoped the British High Commission would be helpful when we gave your passport to them, but they made it hard. The flight was in the early morning and the hours were dragging. All we could think of was that we didn’t want to just leave you there.

We didn’t know if we would make the flight or be detained, so we kept walking around so we were around people in the event we were held there. You are probably sitting laughing at this letter now, and thinking it would make a good storyline.

Once home, my thoughts were with you. I cried myself to sleep that night, knowing you wouldn’t be sleeping on a bed and something wasn’t right.

I kept remembering seeing your smiling face and you joking about with everyone and the kids on your wedding day. I’d been thinking finally you are married, after years of my wife Mandip asking you to do it. I’d been thinking how much both Mandip and Gurpreet were going to cost us with their shopping, but that had changed to the realisation I had left you and Gurpreet there, both helpless.

WHEN your advocate told me about the torture, I couldn’t tell the family – I couldn’t believe Punjab Police would do that to a British national. Hearing the extent of torture you endured still brings shivers. I have heard stories from lots of my clients about the torture they endured, but hearing it about you was hard to bear. I broke down on TV when I told the public what you had been through. Mandip called me straight away crying and saying “please tell me it’s not true”.

I thought we were alone when I came back from India. I didn’t know the support that I would get with helping to campaign for your release. As soon as I came out in the public with your abduction, I received support from various organisations and activists around the world.

READ MORE: Tory minister finally holds talks with family of Jagtar Singh Johal

The singer Diljit Dosanjh tweeted about your torture and internationally the Indian Government were condemned for their actions. Martin Docherty-Hughes, our MP, has been amazing with raising your case in the UK Parliament. Preet Kaur Gill MP has also been very supportive and provided us with a lot of support in parliament. The Free Jaggi Now campaign has been recognised internationally.

I never thought I would need to advocate for your release and fight with not just the Indian Government, but also the UK Government for your release. Whilst a lot of clients have said I am good at my job as a solicitor, right now I do not feel like that. I feel as if I have failed you. Until you are back home, I will continue to feel I have failed you and Gurpreet. I never thought I would need to challenge the Home Office for Gurpreet to be allowed to stay with the family in Scotland.

I have been lucky with having some support from advocates and solicitors I know for Gurpreet’s immigration case and I believe that, when her appeal is heard, the tribunal will grant her leave to remain in the UK. I recall you saying before you got married: “Don’t worry, we have a solicitor in the house who will be able to complete Gurpreet’s immigration paperwork.” I didn’t expect it to be this kind of paperwork and you not being the sponsor of the application.

We knew the Indian legal system was like a circus, but I never thought our family would have to go through that circus. I know the continued delays are affecting us here, I cannot even imagine what you are going through there. I hope you are taking extra care about hygiene as we are really scared of you contracting the virus, given our family health history.

When Advocate Manjhpur came to the UK for the first time, we all went to get him at the airport. It felt as though we were collecting you and the nightmare was over. We are not the only ones waiting for your return – everyone who has been supporting the campaign has stated they want to meet you when you are back home. People around the world are praying for your release and to be reunited with us.

Once Gurpeet’s visa status is sorted out, I will be arranging her driving lessons and I am certain she will quickly pass her driving test and will be eager to collect you from the airport herself. So be prepared for her to say “I have passed my driving test before you”.

The kids are missing you and have already made a list of things they are looking forward to doing with you and Gurpreet. Bibi and Papa are waiting patiently for you to return and see you in front of them. You know how much they love us and they are not getting any younger.

We will keep campaigning until you are back home.