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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Who is Jaggi Johal and what are the cases against him

Jagtar Singh Johal (34) is a UK national and a resident of Dumbarton, Scotland. According to his family, Johal was an online activist and contributed to a magazine and website documenting the alleged persecution of the Sikh religious minority in India.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: July 2, 2022 11:50:53 am
In January 2021, Delhi Police took remand of Jaggi Johal and accused him of establishing contact from Tihar jail with gangster Sukmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal, who was in Dubai. (Express file photo)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s acknowledgement that he believed that UK national Jagtar Singh Johal, alias Jaggi Johal, has been “arbitrarily detained” in a Delhi jail has put the spotlight on the “arrested” Scotland-based Sikh activist.

Jaggi Johal has been lodged in prison since 2017 and is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency on suspicion of being involved im targeted killings carried out by the banned Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF). Kamaldeep Singh Brar explains who Jaggi Johal is and what are the cases against him

Who is Jagtar Singh aka Jaggi Johal?

Jagtar Singh Johal (34) is a UK national and a resident of Dumbarton, Scotland. According to his family, Johal was an online activist and contributed to a magazine and website documenting the alleged persecution of the Sikh religious minority in India. Johal’s activities consisted translating into English the stories of Sikhs who had allegedly faced persecution in India.

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Arrest

Johal arrived in India on October 2, 2017, and got married to a Punjabi woman on October 18. His brother Gurpreet Singh Johal and parents flew back to the UK after the marriage, but Jaggi chose to stay on. He was arrested on November 4, 2017, from Raman Mandi town of Jalandhar district by a team of Punjab Police. He was initially arrested in connection with an arms recovery case registered at Baghapurana in December 2016 and was subsequently named as an accused in seven targeted attack cases, five of which were murder charges (targeted killings) and two were attempt to murder charges (attempted targeted killings) where activists and members of right wing Hindu outfits, the Dera Sirsa followers and even a Christian activist (a pastor) were targeted.

What was his role in the targeted killings?

According to the NIA, in June, 2013, the Khalistani Liberation Force (KLF) militants Harminder Singh alias Mintoo (now deceased) and Hardeep Singh took a tour of France and Germany by road. When they were in Paris, two men, Mintoo and one Gurjinder Singh alias Shastri, went to the Paris airport to receive Jagtar Singh Johal, who had arrived from the UK. Johal had been sent to France from the UK by one Gursharanbir Singh to deliver €3000 to Mintoo. A part of this money was given by Mintoo to Hardeep Singh to motivate him to join the KLF and recruit him for executing the conspiracy of targeted killings. Johal was hence accused of providing funds to militants.

In January 2021, Delhi Police took remand of Jaggi Johal and accused him of establishing contact from Tihar jail with gangster Sukmeet Pal Singh alias Sukh Bhikhariwal, who was in Dubai. Bhikhariwal was arrested in December 2020 after which Johal was questioned. Later Delhi police didn’t name Johal in its challan produced against Sukmeet Pal.

Advocacy for Johal’s release

Jaggi Johal’s British family has been lobbying for his release ever since he was arrested in 2017. On November 4, 2018. Apart from Akal Takht Sahib and Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandak Committee, many mainstream politicians in Britain, Canada and Punjab have often taken a sympathetic stand on Jaggi Johal.

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incidentally, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, when he was the Sangrur MP in 2017 had said, “If Indian agencies had been keeping an eye on Jaggi for one year, then the British government should have been consulted in this regard(the arrest of Johal).” Mann had also stated that the manner in which Johal was arrested was liable to create fear in the minds of NRIs about sending their children to Punjab.
In May this year, the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had also published a report detailing Johal’s case, deeming his detention as arbitary.

What does Johal’s lawyer say

Johal Jaggi’s lawyer, Jaspal Singh Manjhpur, said, “A total 11 cases have been registered against Jaggi Johal in India — eight of which are being investigated by the NIA, two by Punjab Police and one by Delhi Police Special Cell. Chargesheets have been filed in all the cases. However, the charges have been framed only in one case that was registered by Punjab Police immediately after his arrest from Jalandhar in 2017. Johal has already secured bail in three cases against him, including the one in which charges are framed. He was also discharged in one case that was registered by Punjab Police.”

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First published on: 02-07-2022 at 09:09:47 am

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