FIVE years ago Jagtar Singh Johal’s family sat down with him for a birthday feast of homemade chilli paneer.

His father and grandmother were there, as were his brother and sister-in-law and his young nephews.

The blogger and activist was turning 30 and preparing for marriage – as well as the age milestone, this would be his final birthday as a single man.

But the Dumbarton family didn’t know it would be the last birthday they’d share with him before he’d be taken from his new bride on the street, bundled into an unmarked van and enter what is now considered by international justice charities as arbitrary detention.

It’s been five years since that day they sat down to that meal; Jagtar’s favourite dish prepared at home by his sister-in-law Mandip Kaur. On his 35th birthday, the family cannot see him in his Indian jail cell, cannot speak to him as he still awaits trial after more than four years of imprisonment, cannot celebrate with him.

But they can and will pray for his release – as will Sikhs in around 50 gurdwaras around on four continents in a co-ordinated day of action.

The National: Jagtar Singh Johal, known as JaggiJagtar Singh Johal, known as Jaggi

And his brother Gurpreet, a solicitor based in Glasgow, is inviting people of all faiths to join in from 7-8pm (GMT) tonight. “Even if you don’t join the Sikh prayers, say your own so that Jaggi can be back home and with his family before his next birthday,” he told The National.

Known to friends and supporters as Jaggi, Jagtar had been married for just two weeks when he was arrested in India’s Punjab region by plain clothes officers who did not identify themselves. His family, who had by then returned home from his wedding, initially thought he had been kidnapped for ransom but later discovered he was in police custody.

At the time of his arrest in November 2017, Indian agencies stated that they had all evidence necessary to prosecute him for involvement in a Sikh-on-Hindu assassination plot, claiming that he’d given £4000 to another player in the conspiracy during a trip to Paris.

Shortly after, Jagtar accused the police of torture, saying they’d attached electrodes to his body, threatened to set him on fire and kill his wife and had him sign a blank confession. No independent medical examination was carried out and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has failed to secure regular contact with his family, who haven’t spoken to him in months.

Gurpreet knows what he would say to his brother, currently held under high security in Tihar jail, Delhi. He’s released a very personal message to his brother through the justice charity Reprieve, which is supporting the family and considers Jagtar’s long pre-trial incarceration to be arbitrary detention. That definition’s been taken up by others including many UK MPs, but not by the British Government.

In the message, Gurpreet – who is leading the Free Jaggi Now campaign – said: “I am sorry that I have not been able to wish you happy birthday for the last five years in person and despite all efforts that I have been unsuccessful in ensuring you are home this year again. I wish that this will be your last birthday in arbitrary detention and you will be back with us as soon as possible.

“Happy birthday and may God always keep you in high spirits.”

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The London-based non-profit has sent that message to its members and asked them to add their voices to the greeting. More than 6200 have been received and it hopes to get them to Jagtar through legal or diplomatic channels.

And tonight supporters will gather in Toronto and Sydney, Gravesend and Glasgow, in solidarity. At 7am this morning, prayers were also scheduled outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest site in the Sikh religion.

That world-famous site is, the family believe, related also to the reason Jagtar was arrested. It was there that Operation Blue Star took place in 1984, with government troops launching an offensive against Sikh separatists who sought to establish an independent homeland, Khalistan, in Punjab. The Indian government said around 400 people were killed, including 87 soldiers, but Sikhs said the dead ran to thousands and included pilgrims visiting the temple for a key religious date.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was then assassinated by Sikh bodyguards in an act of revenge that unleashed widespread violence, with Hindus attacking and even killing Sikhs in riots known by some as the “Sikh genocide”.

It was this that Jagtar was blogging about through the NeverForget84 site. His family believes that activity, plus his nationality, made him a scapegoat for the contemporary killings of right-wing Hindu figures.

Indian authorities have said there is “no evidence of mistreatment or torture as alleged” by Jagtar and while Gurpreet has said racism and the pursuit of post-Brexit trade deals have contributed by inaction by the British Government, it says it has “consistently” raised concerns about the Scotsman’s treatment.

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Tonight as worshippers say prayers at gurdwaras across Scotland, England, Canada, Australia and India, Jagtar’s family will say theirs at the Central Gurdwara, Glasgow. They hope it will be the last time that prayers are all they can send him on his birthday.

On the messages from supporters, Gurpreet said: “I am overwhelmed with the support and grateful to know that others are also thinking about Jagtar today.”

Andrew Purcell of Reprieve commented: “After more than four years in an Indian prison without trial, abandoned by his government, Jagtar could be forgiven for thinking people have forgotten all about him. But today, on his birthday, thousands of people in Britain are standing in solidarity. The messages of support are for Jagtar himself, but collectively, they’re also a message to ministers, to do whatever it takes to bring him home.”

You can send a message to Jagtar here.