A PLEA to Rishi Sunak to put pressure on the Indian Prime Minister to release Jagtar Singh Johal from prison and a possible death penalty has been made by his anguished brother.

Sunak will meet Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in India next month, just across town from where Johal, known as Jaggi, has been arbitrarily detained in jail for six years amid allegations he has been tortured.

The Sunday National can also reveal that a letter from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (below) asking UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly for a speedy update on Jaggi’s case was “mislaid” for months.

The National:

A reply to Ross’s letter of December 14 wasn’t sent until July 31.

Now Gurpreet Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, has called on Sunak to secure freedom for his brother, who was shopping when he was grabbed by plain clothes officers, hooded with a sack and bundled into a police car in front of his new wife, just three weeks after their wedding in India.

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims has said there are “reasonable grounds” to believe he was tortured into a false confession that he was plotting a Sikh-on-Hindu assassination.

“As the UK’s first Indian Prime Minister, with deep connections to India’s political and economic elite, Rishi Sunak has the power to bring Jagtar home,” Johal told the Sunday National.

“He will be meeting India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, next month and all he has to do is ask for this terrible injustice to be resolved and make clear he won’t take no for an answer.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure that Jagtar is top of his agenda when he travels to India for the G20 summit, so that this unique opportunity isn’t lost.”

Johal pointed out that Sunak is only a few years older than 36-year-old Jaggi, who was detained following his wedding in 2017, an accusation strongly denied by Johal and his family.

“Of course they [Sunak and Jaggi] had very different childhoods, but they both grew up in Britain, in the 80s and 90s, in an Indian family so there is that shared cultural experience,” said Johal.

“But while Rishi Sunak has risen to the office of Prime Minister my brother has been abducted, tortured and held prisoner on trumped-up political charges.”

Johal’s call has been backed by Human Rights charity Reprieve. Policy and advocacy director Dan Dolan who said the UK’s failure to secure Jaggi’s release was “abject”.

“For as long as he remains unjustly imprisoned – it’s now almost six years and counting – Jagtar’s case will be the ‘elephant in the room’ whenever representatives of the UK and Indian governments meet,” said Dolan.

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“When Rishi Sunak meets Narendra Modi at the G20 summit in New Delhi next month, just across town at Mandoli jail a British citizen will be alone in his cell, facing a possible death sentence for something he didn’t do.

“UN legal experts have recognised Jagtar is arbitrarily detained, and earlier this month India’s Supreme Court agreed that prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to justify his continued imprisonment.

“In these circumstances, the UK’s failure to seek his release is abject. The Prime Minister must not return home from Delhi without seeking cast iron assurances that Jagtar will be freed.”

The case has triggered a cross party campaign for Jaggi’s release, led by SNP Martin Docherty-Hughes, the family’s MP.

In his letter of December 14, Ross told Cleverly: “As you know the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has said that Mr Johal is arbitrarily detained and that the most appropriate remedy would be to release him immediately.”

Calling for a speedy update on any action being taken to secure Jaggi’s release, Ross concluded: “It’s clear now that time is of the essence. As such I would welcome your response to this letter at the earliest opportunity.”

However Ross did not receive a reply until July 31 and then it was from Lord Ahmad, the Minister for South Asia instead of Cleverly.

In it he apologises for the delay in responding, saying that Ross’s letter was “initially misplaced” soon after it was received by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

However he admitted that Cleverly had not raised Jaggi’s case with the Indian Government since the beginning of March.

This month there was a minor breakthough in Jaggi’s case when the Supreme Court of India upheld an earlier High Court decision by granting bail in one of the cases against him, rejecting an appeal from the state.

The court found that his six-year continued imprisonment violated Jaggi’s rights under India’s constitution.

However he was not released on bail as the ruling only applies to one out of the cases currently against him.

Criticism has been levelled at the UK Government for failing to secure Johal’s release, amid accusations that Tory ministers were prioritising a trade deal with India.

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Lord Ahmad, who met the Johal family on August 22, said: “The UK Government is committed to seeing Jagtar Singh Johal’s case resolved as soon as possible, as I underlined during my meeting with his family in Scotland.

“We continue to provide consular assistance to Mr Johal and his family and have consistently raised our concerns about his case directly with the Government of India, including his allegations of torture and his right to a fair trial.”

The Sunday National approached Douglas Ross for comment.